SAFE Working Procedures Vital During Cold Winter Months

SAFE Working Procedures Vital During Cold Winter Months

​​Winnipeg – Deep freeze conditions in Manitoba mean that those working outside are especially vulnerable to cold stress. SAFE Work Manitoba encourages employers and workers to prepare for work in extreme cold weather conditions in order to prevent cold stress. Extreme cold is as serious as any other health risk in the workplace.
Cold stress is the body’s inability to control its internal temperature.  It can result in serious illness or death.  Cold temperatures, high or cold wind, immersion in low temperature water, physical exertion, and improper or inadequate clothing are some factors that put you at risk. 
Frostbite occurs when skin tissue freezes.  Frostbitten skin may produce a prickling or burning sensation, followed by numbness. In serious cases frostbite can lead to tissue damage, scarring, and even amputation.
Hypothermia is another result of cold stress. Hypothermia occurs when core body temperature drops below 35˚C.  Symptoms of hypothermia follow a progression.  A sensation of cold is followed by pain, numbness, muscle weakness, confusion, drowsiness, coma, death.
Preventing Cold Stress
  • Assess the weather conditions before heading out to the worksite and monitor yourself and your co-workers once there. 
  • Wear layered, dry and insulated clothing with a windproof and waterproof outer shell. 
  • Take warm up breaks in heated shelters.  When the temperature is -7˚C or lower, these shelters should be available nearby. 
  • Stay hydrated with warm, sweet drinks. 
  • Keep your body moving, but limit heavy work to avoid perspiration.

If someone you work with is suffering from cold stress, move the worker to a warm area and encourage continuous body movement.  Replace wet clothes with dry clothes/blankets, and provide warm, (not hot) sweet drinks.  If you think someone is experiencing hypothermia or extreme frostbite, call 911 immediately.
SAFE Work Manitoba is the unified prevention organization responsible for promotion and delivery of services related to workplace injury and illness prevention.

SAFE: Spot the hazard. Assess the risk. Find a safer way. Everyday.
For more information refer to the Thermal Stress Guideline.
For more information contact:

Warren Preece

Director of Communications
WCB Manitoba
(204) 954-4113

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