Workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress. Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter, outdoor workers, and those who work in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat. What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary across different areas of the country. In regions relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop decidedly below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can more rapidly leave your body. These weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.
Preventing Cold-related Illness, Injury, and Death among Workers
Workers, both indoors and outdoors, in services, transportation, agriculture, construction, and other industries may be exposed to environmental cold stress that can lead to thermal discomfort and in some cases even severe injuries, illnesses, or death.
NIOSH Working in Cold Podcast
During the winter, many workers are outdoors, working in cold, wet, icy, or snowy conditions. Learn how to identify symptoms that tell you there may be a problem and protect yourself from cold stress.
NIOSH Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself from Cold Stresspdf icon
Print or order this free card for easy access to important safety information.
NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA 2011-0131-3221pdf icon
Evaluation of Ergonomic Risk Factors, Thermal Exposures, and Job Stress at an Airline Catering Facility
NIOSH Science Blog: Cold Stress
For many, a sweater or an extra degree on the thermostat is all that’s needed to keep warm at work on a cold day. Not so for those working outside or in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat.