Work safely in cold weather
As temperatures fall, challenges rise for staying healthy and safe at work.
Extreme cold is a workplace hazard. That means employers need to take steps to reduce risks to workers associated with cold weather such as severe cold stress and hypothermia.
“Cold weather is a fact of life in Alberta and can affect workplace health and safety. I encourage employers and workers to work together to minimize the risks of cold temperatures so that everyone can return home safely at the end of the shift.”Tyler Shandro, Minister of Labour and Immigration
What employers can do:
- add a heater or heated shelter to the work site
- implement a work/warm-up schedule
- shield workers from drafts or wind as much as possible
- allow workers extra breaks if needed
- educate workers on the hazards of working in the cold and put controls in place to protect them
- implement a buddy system so no one works alone
How to stay warm:
- use layered or insulated clothing
- cover exposed skin
- take breaks inside
- keep footwear dry
- keep moving to generate body heat but avoid sweating
Early warning signs of cold stress:
- feeling cold and shivering
- having trouble moving fingers, hands and toes, loss of feeling or tingling
- frost nip, when the top layers of skin turn white
- irritability, confusion or loss of coordination
Vulnerability to cold-related injury varies from person to person. Factors such as age, medical conditions, general health and fitness level can make people more or less susceptible to feeling extreme cold.