OSHA Offers Tips to Protect Workers in Cold Environments

With the onset of cold weather at hand, OSHA is reminding employers and workers to take necessary precautions, such as those listed on OSHA’s Cold Stress Card, to prevent and treat cold-related health problems.


Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can lead to death.


Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help at 911.


OSHA’s Cold Stress Card provides a reference guide and recommendations to combat and prevent many illnesses and injuries. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers, workers and the public. Tips include:


How to Protect Workers

®    Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.

®    Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and how to help workers.

®    Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.

®    Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.

®    Be sure workers in extreme weather conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.

®    Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.

®    Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.

®    Use the buddy system – work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.

®    Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.

®     Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.

®    Remember, workers face increased risks when they are taking certain medications and are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or

cardiovascular disease.


For free copies of OSHA’s Cold Stress Card in English or Spanish, go to OSHA’s website,

www.osha.gov, or call 1(800) 321-OSHA.


Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

 For more information, visit www.osha.gov


or contact Dave Bennett @ DBennett@thompsonandjohnson.com  or @ 315-413-4146