The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a Cold Stress Related Injuries Safety Alert. Cold stress occurs when the body can no longer maintain a normal temperature and can result in very serious cold-related illnesses and injuries, permanent tissue damage, or even death. Those working in cold environments — with low temperatures, high wind speed, humidity, and/or contact with cold water or surfaces — are particularly susceptible to cold stress.
MSHA offers the following Best Practices to help prevent this type of injury:
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers.
- Wear several layers of clothing for insulation. The first layer should fit snugly against the skin and be made of a nonabsorbent material that wicks away water and keeps skin dry. Clothing should not be too tight, as this may restrict movement resulting in a hazardous situation.
- Protect your ears, face, hands, and feet in extremely cold or wet weather.
- Wear waterproof and insulated boots and clothing.
- Wear a hat to reduce the loss of body heat from your head.
- Have extra socks, gloves, hats, jacket, blankets, and a change of clothes available in case the weather becomes much worse or your clothes become wet.
- Use radiant heaters in break areas and limit the amount of time outside.
- Carry or make available a thermos of hot liquid.
- Include chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
- Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
- Maintain adequate hydration and nutritional requirements.