Managing cold stress

We have a number of employees that have to work outdoors during the course of the year including winter months. Their safety representative has stated that we are exposing staff to the effects of cold stress and should be taking action to prevent this. What is cold stress and what action should we be taking?

Q

We have a number of employees that have to work outdoors during the course of the year including winter months. Their safety representative has stated that we are exposing staff to the effects of cold stress and should be taking action to prevent this. What is cold stress and what action should we be taking?

A

When in a cold environment, a body’s energy is used to keep the internal temperature warm. Over time, the body will begin to shift blood flow from the extremities and outer skin to the core.

This allows exposed skin and the extremities to cool rapidly. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur, leading to permanent tissue damage and even death. This is often known as cold stress.

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