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 lead to 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 unaccustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop 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 Science Blog: The Physiological Response of Working in Cold Environments and how your PPE can Help
Learn about the role of PPE in the mitigation of cold stress.
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 Stress
Print or order this free card for easy access to important safety information.
NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA 2011-0131-3221
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.
CDC Winter Weather
Information on how to prepare indoors and outdoors for extreme cold.
OSHA Winter Weather: Plan. Equip. Train.
Preventing slips and falls on snow and ice.
OSHA Cold Stress Guide
Guidance for occupational cold stress.
National Ag Safety Database (NASD) Outdoor Action Guide to Hypothermia and Cold Weather Injuries
Traveling in cold weather conditions can be life threatening.
NASD Cold Weather Exposure
Flyer and quiz for learning to recognize the symptoms and to know the results of overexposure to the cold, and take precautions to prevent overexposure.
NOAA National Weather Service: Winter Resources
Information on winter alerts, science and hazards, snow coverage maps, and information describing the different types of winter storms.
American National Standards Institute – Ergonomics of the Thermal Environment: Medical Supervision of Individuals Exposed to Extreme Hot or Cold Environments (ISO 12894:2001)
This International Standard provides advice to those concerned with the safety of human exposures to extreme hot or cold thermal environments.