The winter season can bring a host of unique environmental challenges to manage. It could be below freezing one day and feel like spring has arrived the next. You might have several inches of snow to handle, freezing rain to combat, or frigid temps that drop well into the negatives.
If your profession requires you to work outside in these changing conditions, you must take care of yourself appropriately. These tips will help you and your crew stay more comfortable and productive in the cold weather.
1. Dress for the Weather
Avoid using cotton products during the winter because the material extracts heat from your body when it gets wet. You'll want items like poly fleece, polypropylene, and wool to help everyone stay warm. A hi-vis winter coat from these materials with reflective qualities is an excellent outer layer to have available.
2. Dress in Layers
You don't need to rely on winter hats and hand warmers to stay comfortable. Invest in the best winter gloves, jackets, and base layers to ensure everyone can adapt to the changing temperatures. If people start getting warm, they can shed an outer layer. When the cold returns, it can be put back on again.
3. Protect the Head
Hard hat liners for winter are perfect for those who must wear that safety gear in their working environment. These products act like insulation, preventing heat from escaping when you want to retain it.
If you don't wear one, consider looking at the best winter hats that can keep your ears warm. Materials like wool or poly are perfect since you won't need to worry about sweat getting into the fabric.
Consider making it a winter hat and gloves when you can only invest in one set of winter safety gear.
4. Eat Healthy Foods
The human body needs fuel to produce heat. Consuming some carbohydrates while working is helpful because they metabolize quickly to create energy. Try to eat snacks instead of large meals to ensure you get enough support without feeling hungry all the time.
If workers eat too much food, it can cause them to feel drowsy. That makes it even more challenging to complete their duties. A balanced diet can also support the immune system, preventing colds and other illnesses from requiring sick days.
5. Work in Pairs and Groups
By working with a team, an entire crew can support each other and work faster while staying alert. Each person can keep the others alert while providing help if an emergency develops. Think about implementing this winter safety tip whenever the workplace has potential hazards that lead to life-threatening injuries.
6. Consume Warm Liquids
Warm liquids help people fight off the cold from the inside out. Sugar can be added to many beverages for a temporary increase in energy. Although coffee can give you a quick boost, it also dilates the blood vessels. That makes it easier for them to lose body heat.
Winter warmers often complement the actions of a hot beverage when consumed to create more comfort.
7. Encourage Enough Sleep
The average person needs between seven to nine hours of sleep to give the body restorative function. If you get less than six, there could be fatigue ramifications that last throughout the day.
When people get enough sleep, it lowers their chances of becoming sick. If workers become tired, try giving them a short break in a warm area on your job site.
8. Stay Dry
Moisture takes heat away from the skin. That causes the body temperature to drop. You want that to happen with sweat in the summer, but the goal is to retain this warmth in the winter. If any clothing gets wet, take it off as quickly as possible.
Encourage everyone on the crew to bring at least one spare set of clothes with them to the job site. If you're in uniforms, have spares available to ensure warmth. It also helps to wear insulated boots with rubber soles.
9. Wear Sunglasses
Most job sites require safety glasses as part of the personal protective equipment package. If you can provide sunglasses to your crew, it will help them protect their eyes against the glare that comes from the snow as the sun shines.
A clear view of the surrounding environment makes it easier for each worker to stay aware and alert. Polarized lenses add a protective element against UV rays.
10. Be Reflective at Night
A winter hi-vis jacket is an essential resource when working outside during the colder months. Anything that offers brightness and reflectivity makes it easier for others to see where workers are, especially since it gets dark quickly. Consider having everyone carry a flashlight and extra batteries with them to help see in the dark.
11. Insulate Indoor Spaces
It can get cold and miserable inside when crews work in areas without insulation. Consider adding thick drapes or curtains to windows, blocking drafts from doors, and using insulating film on exposed walls.
Even a blanket on a wall can add an insulating effect that makes a small room feel more comfortable.
When people gather in the same area, they preserve more heat. Consider establishing a break room where the crew can assemble and get warm on the coldest days.
12. Take Hot Showers
Taking a hot shower or bath before reporting for work raises an individual's body temperature. By getting a warmer start to the day, the body can preserve some of the heat when you get covered right away. Then add clothing that continues the preservation process.
13. Work at an Appropriate Pace
Allow the crew to have more leniency when performing their tasks. A slower pace translates into less overexertion, especially when the job duties are outside. Take breaks between actions or whenever you feel strained.
These winter safety tips can help your crew get more done while staying comfortable. What ideas have you implemented that have been successful for your operations?