Those in the construction industry are accustomed to working with the weather. If it's the hottest day on record, the rainiest day on record, the middle of a blizzard, or frigidly cold, those on the construction site are trained to work around it, work through it, or wait it out. As many parts of the country are shivering through the winter weather, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises construction workers to be vigilant about signs of cold stress. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures could cause significant health problems like trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia. According to Princeton University Office of Environmental Health and Safety, there are four factors that contribute to cold stress: cold temperatures, high or cold wind, dampness and cold water. And no, temperatures don't need to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for cold stress to be a concern. It can happen in temps as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit if there is significant wind or cold, damp conditions.
Some signs and symptoms to watch for, include:
- uncontrolled shivering
- slurred speech
- clumsy movements
- confused behavior
To protect your workers, provide electric heaters for your construction sites. We offer affordable, portable electric heaters that produce no fumes or moisture and are safe to use in small spaces without ventilation. OSHA recommends encouraging workers to take regular breaks in heated spaces to warm up.
In addition to providing electric heaters, OSHA suggests several other protective measures for working in the cold:
- Encourage workers to wear appropriate clothing, including layers.
- Schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion and fatigue, as the body requires energy to keep muscles warm.
- When possible, require workers to work in pairs, so they might be alert to signs and symptoms of cold stress and can monitor each other.
- Drink warm beverages.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods.
- Educate workers on the signs and symptoms of cold stress and emergency procedures to address them.
It can be a dangerous time of the year. We want you to be safe, warm, and productive. Contact us and let us know how we can help.