Winter Weather

Cold Stress


It is important to monitor workers’ physical condition during tasks.

Working conditions and wind chill temperatures should be heavily monitored to best gauge workers’ exposure risks and in turn, plan how to safely complete the work on the job site. 

What is Cold Stress?
Cold stress occurs by driving down the skin temperature, and eventually the internal body temperature. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur, and permanent tissue damage and death may result.

How to Prevent Cold Stress:

  • Train your workers:
    • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that can lead to cold stress.
    • Know the symptoms & how to prevent cold stress
    • Select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.
  • Monitor workers physical condition
  • Schedule frequent short breaks in warm dry areas
  • Schedule work during the warmest part of the day
  • Use the buddy system
  • Provide warm, sweet beverages - No Alcohol
  • Provide heating equipment such as radiant heaters

Types of Cold Stress

Immersion/Trench Foot
A non-freezing injury of the feet caused by prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions.

Symptoms: Reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness, and blisters

First Aid:

  • Call 911 / seek medical attention
  • Remove wet shoes & socks
  • Dry the feet
  • Keep affected feet elevated, avoid walking

Caused by the freezing of the skin and tissues.

Symptoms: Reddened skin develops gray/white patches in the fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes; tingling, aching, a loss of feeling, firm/hard, and blisters may occur in the affected areas.

First Aid:

  • Follow the recommendations described below for hypothermia
  • Protect the frostbitten area
  • Do not rub the affected area - rubbing causes damage to skin and tissue
  • Do not break blisters
  • Do not try to re-warm the frostbitten area
  • Give the worker warm sweetened drinks if alert (no alcohol)

Occurs when the normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to less than 95°F.  Cold temperatures cause the body to lose heat faster than it can be produced.

Symptoms: Uncontrollable shivering, loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slow, unconsciousness and possibly death

First Aid"

  • Call 911 immediately in an emergency
  • Move to a warm, dry area
  • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing
  • If medical help is more than 30 minutes away:
    • Give warm sweetened drinks if alert (no alcohol
    • Place warm bottles or hot packs in armpits, sides of chest, and groin

Prevent injury, illness & fatalities on the job site.

Plan. Equip. Train.