Preventing Cold Stress and Cold Induced Injuries
The Gowrie Safety Report
Winter weather creates a variety of hazards and risks that can significantly impact everyday tasks and work activities. People that are outdoors in cold environments for extended periods of time can be at risk for Cold Stress. Those at risk includes home owners shoveling driveways, winter sports enthusiasts, and workers with outdoor winter responsibilities – snow cleanup crews, recreational workers, construction teams, emergency response personnel, firefighters, police officers, transportation personnel, and more.
Cold Stress occurs when the skin temperature, and eventually the internal body temperature (core temperature), is driven down. This can lead to serious health problems, tissue damage, and possibly death. A cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its temperature and most of the body's energy is used to keep the internal core temperature warm. Over time, the body shifts blood flow from the extremities (hands, feet, arms, and legs) and outer skin to the core. This shift allows the exposed skin and extremities to cool rapidly and increases the risk of frostbite, trench foot, and hypothermia.