Winter has arrived, forcing america’s outdoor workers to face yet another brisk challenge to safety and health on the job. To help protect them, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers and employees to avoid prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures.

“Exposure to cold weather can be more than uncomfortable; it can be dangerous,” said Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. “More than 700 people die of hypothermia each year in the United States. Employers and workers need to know how to defend against hazards of working in extremely cold temperatures.”

“Wearing the right clothing is the most important step a person can take to fight the cold’s harmful effects, and ultimately avoid cold-related injuries,” added OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. “Employers can take added steps to help protect their workers by having employees come out of the cold for periods of time, providing additional heat sources and setting up systems to check more frequently on people working in the cold.”

During cold weather about 60 percent of a person’s body fuel is used to heat the body. When exposed to frigid temperatures, particularly for extended periods of time, a person will tire easily, and exposed skin will cool rapidly. This is prime breeding ground for the dangerous effects of the cold — hypothermia and frostbite. Combine cold temperatures with water, including actual immersion, and trench foot becomes another potential serious ailment.

A fact sheet, entitled “Protecting Workers in Cold Environments,” defines the harmful effects of the cold and provides guidelines and recommendations for protecting workers in such industries as construction, commercial fishing and agriculture. Also included is immediate first aid measures to be taken to treat cold-related injuries or illnesses. Go to