OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
National News Release USDL 03-33
January 23, 2003
Contact: Frank Meilinger
Phone: (202) 693-1999
WASHINGTON -- With temperatures across the country at or near record lows, OSHA is reminding workers and employers to take necessary precautions. Workers in construction, commercial fishing, maritime and agriculture are among those who need to take precautions.
Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures can result in serious health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can result in death. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help.
OSHA's Cold Stress Card provides a quick reference guide and recommendations. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers, workers and the public. Among the tips:
How to Protect Workers
- Recognize environmental and workplace conditions that can be dangerous.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries and what to do to help workers.
- Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
- Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions including layers so they can adjust to changing conditions.
- Be sure that workers take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system -- work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
- Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
- Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.
OSHA is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses, and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life.
This news release text is on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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