Cold air and icy conditions increase the risks associated with working outdoors. If you work in a field that requires you to spend time outside even when the temperatures drop below freezing, use these tips to stay safe and healthy.
Make sure your hands are warm
One of the most difficult parts of working in the cold is making sure your hands are covered enough so they don’t freeze, but aren’t so restricted that doing your job becomes impossible. Occupational Health & Safety magazine noted that many people choose gloves made from sweat-inducing fabrics which can be uncomfortable since they retain moisture. When this happens, workers often ditch their gloves in favor of bare hands, which can be extremely dangerous in low temperatures. To eliminate this issue, consider wearing gloves made from fabric that wicks sweat, like the synthetic material polypropylene. You won’t experience as much discomfort as you would in a pair of cotton gloves, and your fingers will stay toasty as you complete your tasks.
The source also recommended selecting gloves that offer extra protection for your fingertips, since these are some of the first areas the body stops sending blood to when it’s trying to stay warm. Try to find gloves that are lined twice or offer added layers around the tips. If you’re spending time outdoors but don’t need full dexterity, EHS Today recommended wearing mittens instead of gloves, since they keep your fingers warmer.
Eat well and hydrate regularly
If you work outside, the winter definitely isn’t the time to cut calories. In fact, you should be preparing for your workday by eating a hearty meal that’s filled with carbohydrates and fats to keep you full and energized. EHS Today noted that eating a warm meal can also reduce your risk of getting too chilly on the job. Try filling up with eggs and oatmeal in the morning, and refuel around lunch with pasta. Sipping on warm beverages like coffee and tea throughout the day can also keep you from feeling frozen.
While you might make it a point to drink lots of water during the summer, this habit shouldn’t disappear with the hot temperatures. In fact, working outdoors in the winter puts you at an extremely high risk of dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to stay healthy, recommended EHS Today. If you aren’t taking multiple bathroom breaks throughout your shift, then you likely aren’t consuming enough water.
According to OHS magazine, layers are vital for keeping your body warm while you work in the winter. Your base layer should be comfortable and protective without being too hot. Athletic shirts meant to wick away sweat are great options, since they’re thin yet effective. As you add layers, make sure that you aren’t impeding your ability to work safely. If you have limited mobility or visibility in your winter work gear, consider eliminating or exchanging a few of your layers.