Working outdoors already involves many hazards. Add cold temperatures during the winter months, and the number of risks grows.
Cold stress injuries and illnesses can occur when a person’s skin temperature (and, eventually, their internal body temperature) falls and their body can no longer maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, disorientation, lack of consciousness, and even coma or death for workers who spend time outdoors.
OSHA says to follow these best practices to stay safe in cold weather:
Know the symptoms of cold stress: reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness and blisters.
Wear at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing as well as insulated gloves and boots, and cover your head.
Be aware of your physical condition as you work, and that of your co-workers.
Pack extra clothes, as moisture can increase heat loss from the body.
McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.
Original article published by U.S Department of Labor
Photo: U.S Department of Labor
At the Mine Safety and Health Administration, we are urging miners and mine operators to stay alert during winter months when cold temperatures increase safety hazards. Are these best practices being followed at your mine site?
For surface mines:
✔️ Clear snow and ice from roads and walkways
✔️ Apply sand or salt to walkways to improve traction
✔️ Wear footgear that grips
✔️ Check for slip and trip hazards
✔️ Maintain equipment to operate safely in cold weather
✔️ Drive slowly and keep space between vehicles
✔️ Examine equipment for exhaust leaks
✔️ Always wear your seatbelt
✔️ Check the integrity of highwalls, benches and roadways, especially after each rain, freeze or thaw
In addition to the list above, coal mines should:
✔️ Properly support roof and be aware of changing roof conditions
✔️ Properly ventilate the mine
✔️ Keep clean all combustible materials in mine
✔️ Apply liberal amounts of rock dust
✔️ Conduct frequent examinations
Help keep yourself and other miners safe by printing a winter safety checklist poster for your workplace or using our winter alert graphics in email messages and on social media and websites, available at msha.gov/winter-safety.
For tips on keeping workers safe from cold stress and related hazards, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s winter weather webpage.
Many mining injuries and fatalities could be prevented with proper training and attention to tasks. Review best practices for common hazards at msha.gov/take-time-save-lives, and report accidents and hazardous conditions at 1-800-746-1553 or AskMSHA@dol.gov.
First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation
Lost-time injuries and illnesses resulting from “environmental cold” spiked nearly 142% in 2018 – soaring to 290 cases from 120 the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Those cases, plus the 280 reported in 2019, are a likely indicator of a lack of employer and worker understanding about the dangers of cold stress.
What are the dangers?
Along with air temperature, wind and moisture can create issues for employees working in the cold. Water, including sweat, can displace body heat 25 times faster than dry air, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.
Likewise, wind can blow away the body’s protective external layer of heat. This is why wind chill is an important factor to understand. So, for example, when the temperature is 25° F and the wind is blowing 25 mph, the wind chill is 9° F, resulting in more dangerous conditions.
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists used air temperature and wind speed to develop three thresholds of cold stress hazards: Little danger: Freezing of exposed skin within one hour Danger: Freezing of exposed skin within one minute Extreme danger: Freezing of exposed skin within 30 seconds
With no wind, the temperature can drop to -20° F and still pose little danger to workers. But if the wind speed reaches 20 mph or more, then the danger threshold moves up to 10° F.
ACGIH also developed a work/warm-up schedule for four-hour shifts (available on OSHA’s website at osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather). On this sliding scale, no noticeable wind and an air temperature between -25° and -29° F translates to a maximum work period of 75 minutes. However, if the wind reaches 20 mph or more and the temperature is between -15° and -19° F, the maximum work period is 40 minutes. At -25° F or colder and with a wind speed at the same 20 mph or greater, ACGIH recommends that all non-emergency work stop.
Martin Tirado, CEO of the Snow and Ice Management Association, said a good rule of thumb is a 15-minute break for every hour of work. When the temperature dips below zero, workers should have shorter work periods with a break that’s equal in length (i.e., work for five minutes and warm up for five minutes). Continue reading»
McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.
Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.