Winter has officially arrived and with it extreme cold, high winds and snow. So workers who work outside are likely to be exposed to cold stress, which can cause illnesses and injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia.
If workers aren’t adequately prepared to work in the cold, they may improvise in an effort to get warm—and possibly expose themselves to other hazards.
That’s what happened to a 21-year-old worker in New York, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning after starting a lawn mower in the back of a truck for warmth.
Jorge Perez and his younger cousin were cold after spending several hours doing landscape work outside a church in the Bronx. They were found unresponsive when the truck reached Queens. The lawnmower was still running in the confined space.
How to Protect Workers
It’s critical that you educate workers on the signs of hypothermia, frostbite and other cold stress related illnesses. We have several tools you can use to do so, including:
- A handout on cold stress;
- A safety talk on protecting yourself from frostbite and hypothermia on our sister site, Safe Supervisor
- Information on protecting workers from cold stress through a cold exposure control plan, including a model plan.