Think you're safe in the south?
The truth is that cold stress can impact anyone working in the elements. The 2020 edition of the Farmers' Almanac predicts that two-thirds of the country will face a colder-than-normal winter season.
Workers in southern states may be particularly at risk for the effects of cold stress due to a lack of preparation, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and dramatic swings in temperature.
The good news is that recent technological advancements in winter work gear have made equipping your team with the right head-to-toe protection easier than ever.
You lose 50% more body heat through your head than any other part, right? Wrong. It turns out that while the head loses no more than 7-10% of your body heat in freezing temperatures, the nose, lips, and ears are more sensitive to the frigid temps and therefore need to be taken seriously to minimize fatigue, cold-related illness, and distractions which can lead to serious incidents.
Thermal Hats and Caps Keep Your Head Warm and Dry
The N-Ferno® 6820 FR Knit Cap is a great everyday flame-resistant option for construction, oil and gas, foundries, or abatement and restoration employees. Balaclavas (as shown in the image above) are great for protecting those sensitive areas on the face that hats and caps can’t cover.
Ditch the Hoodies and Get Thermal Hard Hat Liners
For workers who wear hard hats in the elements, thermal liners provide insulation and comfort that hoodies simply cannot. Wearing a hoodie under your hard hat is not only less effective at keeping you warm, it’s also flat-out dangerous. Hoodies limit peripheral vision and cause hard hats to not fit properly. This can lead to equipment failure and an increased chance of injury!
The N-Ferno® 6852 Winter Hard Hat Liner has two layers of insulation and fits under helmets or hard hats without feeling too bulky. In addition, it has four hook and loop straps on the exterior of the liner to securely attach to the interior of a hard hat for a secure fit, even in extreme physical conditions. A Detachable Mouthpiece can be added for additional protection.
You might not think about using different eye protection in the cold, but when workers are active outdoors, their body heat increases. This can cause lens fogging which often forces employees to stop and clean their safety glasses multiple times a day. Even worse, constant snow glare and fogging could lead to a complete lack of compliance and an increased risk of injury.
Anti-Fog Glasses Improve Compliance in Cold Weather
The number one complaint in cold weather isn’t the cold itself, it’s lens fogging! When selecting safety eyewear with anti-fog coating, it is important to find lenses with permanently bonded coatings. These lenses will last longer and require less cleaning and wiping.
Skullerz® Loki Safety Glasses have a patented Fog-Off™ treatment that will not wash off or wear off for fog-free viewing in cold weather. These glasses are designed to be worn as regular sunglasses or as safety goggles by removing the temples and attaching the included strap and adding the removable foam gasket for a dust-beating seal.
Choose Polarized Safety Glasses to Reduce Snow Glare
Skullerz® Odin Polarized Safety Glasses reduce glare and eye fatigue around water, snow and in other bright environments. These full-frame, protective work safety sunglasses feature tough scratch-resistant lenses that filter 99.9% percent of harmful UVA, UVB and UVC rays to keep your eyes safe in the sun.
Layering your clothes in the cold weather is as important to your safety manager as it is to mom. Thankfully, staying warm in layers today is more comfortable and a lot less restrictive than it was for Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story. Utilize three layers to stay warm in the coldest blizzard and comfortable when things start to warm up.
Base Layers Keep Skin Dry and Warm
Sweat and moisture evaporate off our skin and cool us down. It’s a great feature in the heat, but potentially life-threatening in the bitter cold. The key to a warm and comfortable base layer is moisture-wicking, quick-drying material.
The N-Ferno® 6435 Thermal Base Layer Shirt and Bottoms are made from a medium weight moisture-wicking stretch fabric with a brushed interior for warmth and comfort. Convenient thumbholes keep the shirt in place and the wind out.
Flexible Mid Layers Trap Body Heat
When it comes to the middle layers you should choose thicker materials for colder days and less thick materials for less cold days. Some common middle layer options are polyester fleece in various weights and down or synthetic insulated jackets. For most workers, this will be a simple sweatshirt or uniform. If your employees are exposed to freezing temperatures, but must also wear a uniform on the job, consider offering a fleece or wool version of your uniform for added warmth.
Outer Layers Protect Against The Elements
Sometimes called the shell layer, the outer layer is possibly the most important clothing item and therefore should be carefully selected for quality over price. Insulated shells should allow for air and moisture to pass through to the outside, with venting adding another level of temperature control. This all-important third layer should feature durable materials designed to stand up to abrasion, wind, rain, and snow, as well as the cold.
Jacket and Bibs Provide a Weather-Resistant Shell
For workers who use their hands to make a living, the right gloves can be the difference between getting things done and getting stuck trying to warm up. Just because winter work gloves need to be insulated doesn’t mean they need to be clumsy mittens. Workers need the ability to perform everyday tasks without exposing their hands to the elements. The outer shell of thermal work gloves should be coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to ensure that water and snow stay outside where they belong.
Work Gloves For the Snow and Rain
ProFlex® 819WP Extreme Thermal Waterproof Gloves feature dual-zone insulation, a waterproof insert, and Tena-Grip™ palm.
ANSI Level A6 Insulated Cut Protection
The ProFlex® 814CR6 Thermal Utility + Cut Resistance Gloves deliver ANSI/ASTM Level A6 cut protection with insulated fill for cold weather work.
For Extreme Cold Consider Hand Warmers
N-Ferno® Hand Warming Packs made of all-natural ingredients provide up to 8-hours of additional warming when contacted with oxygen.
Millions of people fall each year, causing injuries to the head, wrist, elbow or hip. The Department of Labor estimates the cost of an average slip and fall injury to be about $28,000 (source ISHN). Workers in icy conditions should wear some type of ice traction device in addition to their standard work boots. Over the years, materials and designs have improved significantly to fit virtually any icy application.
Heal-Only Ice Cleats for Less Interference
TREX™ 6315 Strap-On Heel Ice Cleats are ice grips for boots and shoes with rugged steel plates that turn boot heels into ice picks, leaving the midfoot free for vehicle operation.
Slip-On Ice Cleats for Maximum Flexibility
TREX™ 6310 Adjustable Slip-On Ice Cleats are lightweight ice grips for boots and shoes that provide traction and extra stability on ice and snow.
It may come as a surprise to know that workers can experience the same effects of dehydration in the cold weather as in the summer months. People drink less water in cooler weather even though they may be working and sweating beneath layers of clothes. By the time they are thirsty, it’s too late. Essential electrolytes have been depleted and need to be replenished in order to maintain optimal health and performance. Encourage workers to use hydration packs or electrolyte sports drinks if water sources are not readily available.
Electrolyte Drinks Stimulate and Protect
Qwik Stik™ Zero is filled with essential electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins to help stimulate the body and keep it protected during increased exposure to the cold.
Hydration Packs Keep Workers Hydrated Anywhere
Chill-Its® 5156 Premium Low Profile Hydration Pack is a lightweight, portable water source offering unique features to help keep workers hydrated and safe.
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