The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is advising outdoor workers to take extra precaution when working in cold temperatures. While Iowa workers may be used to cold conditions, this winter’s temperatures have been particularly harsh. Even normally warm climates like New Orleans and Florida have seen frigid weather.
An OSHA representative said that the best thing workers can do to prevent a weather-related work injury is to prepare for the cold weather in advance. That means having plenty of warm clothing available, as well as accessories like gloves and hats. She also advised, if possible, avoiding things like alcohol and certain medications, as they may reduce your body’s ability to keep warm.
It’s best practice to wear three layers of clothing in frigid conditions. The first layer should be wool, silk or synthetic material that can pull moisture off the body. The second layer serves to provide further insulation and the outside layer should protect the body from the elements but also provide a bit of ventilation. Workers should also wear thermal socks and warm, protective boots. It’s also a good idea to keep spare clothing on hand in case the primary set becomes wet.
Workers are entitled to a safe and hazard-free workplace. For outdoor workers, weather conditions are a part of the workplace. While OSHA does not have set standards that cover working in the cold, if a worker feels his employer has made him work in an environment that is so cold it is unsafe, he or she may be able to pursue compensation for any injuries or illnesses that were suffered. A workplace attorney could advise the worker of their options and represent their interests in court or negotiations.