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Hazards of working in cold weather include frostbite, hypothermia.
Occup Health Saf 1988 Feb; 57(2):20
Hazards of working in cold conditions were discussed. Although cold related injuries were commonly associated with inadequate shelter, workers exposed to cold environments or who handle cold generating (cryogenic) substances were also at risk of developing a cold related injury such as frostbite or hypothermia. The physiological response to cold and its relationship to frostbite were discussed. Mechanisms of heat loss were reviewed. Cold related injuries were discussed. A review of workers' compensation claims showed that the greatest frequency of cold injuries occurred in the oil and gas extraction industries, followed by trucking and warehousing, protective services, local and interurban transportation, and the electric, gas, and sanitation industries. Most injuries occurred outdoors during winter. Vehicle breakdown was a major factor. For example, in the trucking and warehousing industry, 33 percent of the injuries resulted from frostbite during a vehicle breakdown. Frostbite could also occur indoors during any season, especially in workers exposed to refrigeration and cryogenic materials. The effects of temperature and windspeed on frostbite were discussed. Most frostbite injuries occurred outdoors when temperatures dropped below 10 degrees-F and wind speeds exceeded 10 miles per hour. Preventing frostbite and other cold related injuries were considered. Protective measures included wearing multiple layers of clothing that are permeable to perspiration, avoiding wearing restrictive clothing, wearing mittens and face masks, eating an adequate diet, and avoiding drugs that interfere with the body's capacity to respond to cold.
Epidemiology; Cold-weather-operations; Cold-environments; Climatic-effects; Heat-loss; Physiological-response; Protective-measures; Protective-clothing
Issue of Publication
Occupational Health and Safety
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division