With temperatures dropping, it’s important to know how to work safely in cold weather.
Your body adapts when working in extreme temperatures in order to maintain a constant core temperature. However, there are limits to your body’s adaptation.
Health problems caused by cold exposure include:
- frost nip, when the top layer of skin freezes;
- frost bite, when skin freezes deeply;
- swollen, tingling, painful skin; and
- hypothermia, when the body’s core temperature falls because it can’t make up for the heat loss.
“For many workers in Alberta, working in cold temperatures is unavoidable. I encourage all employers to make sure they are taking all the necessary precautions to protect their workers from health problems caused by cold exposure.”
~ Ric McIver, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour
Employers must take steps to reduce the effect of cold weather on their workers. These steps include:
- providing a heater or other on-site heat source;
- providing a heated shelter for workers to work in or take breaks in;
- shielding workers from drafts or winds;
- allowing workers to take extra breaks if needed;
- educating workers on the hazards of working in the cold and the controls in place to protect them; or
- using a buddy system so workers don’t work alone in very cold weather.
This infographic provides more information on responsibilities for employers and workers when working in cold weather.
If you feel your workplace is unsafe due to cold weather, call the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-866-415-8690.