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Protect Yourself in Cold Weather Working Conditions

Prevent risks and protect yourself. Dress properly for the type weather you’re working in.

Certain jobs require employees to spend long hours working outdoors in extreme cold weather conditions.  It is important to always be prepared, as weather can be unpredictable.  Work zones, such as construction sites, have building deadlines and don’t always stop for cold temperatures.  This can present a danger to members of construction crews if they are not fully prepared for conditions on the jobsite. 

Negative 18 degree weather didn’t stop a crew in Jordan, Minnesota from finishing up a project drilling through a 2,500 foot rock formation.  The crew worked through blizzards and freezing rain in order to meet deadlines and still remain within work hour budgets. They would not have been able to do that without proper cold weather clothing.

Risks involved working outdoors in cold and inclement weather are often overlooked.  Cold weather can cause hypothermia and frostbite.  Hypothermia occurs when the body reaches abnormally low body temperatures.  While not always fatal, hypothermia can become life threatening if the body reaches a temperature below 32.2 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Frostbite leads to damages in tissues as a result of the formation of ice crystals within cells.  Extreme frostbite can also result in the loss of fingers or toes.  In addition, musculoskeletal injuries often referred to as MSI, can be a result of prolonged hours spent working outside.  In cold climates it’s important to dress appropriately to preserve body heat while still allowing for the body to breath and expel moisture.

The best way to prevent risks on the worksite is to dress properly for the type of weather you’ll be working in.  If working outside in snow, ice, or rain, a thermal lined hooded fleece jacket could be vital to keep you going on the job.  If you are working in a climate that is between fall and winter, your best bet is probably a duck vest.  Its design clings to your body, keeping your core warm, but allowing more mobility at the sleeves. 

Puffy coats can keep you warm, but hinder your ability to perform work tasks.  It can be hard to bend down, pick up tools, and operate machinery in traditional bulky, long jackets. Duck insulated chore coats are meant for this particular purpose.  That way, it’s easier to stay warm and move about your jobsite freely.  For optimal warmth, a pair of wool pants can keep your legs warm and help trap in heat below the waist. It is always a good idea to “layer” your clothing since the air space between layers is a very effective insulation. Layering also allows one to adjust their clothing throughout the day to match temperature changes.

Many cold weather work clothes also come in different colors, so they keep you warm while still maintaining your style.  Jackets, fleece, and pants can be worn for work purposes, as well as around the yard, outside on ski and snowmobiling trips, and when going out. Avoid outdoor cold related injuries and take the time to learn more about the attire you need to perform your job safely.

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