Many circumstances, particularly in winter, result in exposure to cold environments. Whilst feeling mildly cold is not normally a health concern, it can present safety issues for some workers.
Common symptoms of the cold can include loss of dexterity, uncontrolled shivering, poor hand-eye co-ordination, slow reaction times and impaired decision making- all of these could contribute to incidents.
Prolonged exposure to extreme cold conditions can result in reduction of the core body temperature causing frost bite, irrational behaviour and in severe circumstances death.
To prevent workers being exposed to harmful or uncomfortable cold conditions, there are many things workplaces can do, for example:*
For work in cold:
- Assess all tasks that require long-term and short-term exposure to cold conditions to ensure controls are suitable.
- Limit the duration workers need to be outdoors or in cold environments.
- Ensure work uniforms are warm enough.
- Prevent draughts entering buildings by sealing gaps around window and doors.
- Install insulation.
- Cover cold concrete floors with floor-coverings e.g. carpet.
- Encourage workers to regularly exercise and wear suitable clothing.