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  • Employers can protect employees from cold-related illnesses and injuries by seeing to employees’ needs for warm clothing, nutrition, breaks, and shelter, and by providing training in cold safety.
  • Employers can treat cold-related illnesses by warming the worker up and providing calories.

Employers are responsible for protecting employees from cold-related illnesses and injuries. If these do occur, employers should be prepared to respond to them quickly.

Things employers can do to protect employees from cold-related illnesses and injuries:

  • Recognize the weather conditions that could cause cold-related illnesses and injuries.
  • Teach employees about the signs and symptoms of cold-related illnesses/injuries and how they can help themselves or their coworkers.
  • Require that employees wear proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.
    • Allow employees to layer their clothing so they can adjust to changing temperatures.
    • Encourage them to wear a hat and gloves in addition to underwear that will keep water away from their skin (polypropylene).
  • Make snacks and energy drinks available to provide employees with the energy needed to keep their muscles warm and avoid exhaustion or fatigue.
  • Require that employees use the buddy system when working in cold conditions.
  • Remind employees to drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate).
  • Allow employees to take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters to warm up.
  • Require that employees only work during the warmest part of the day.

Things employers can do to treat frostbite and other cold-related illnesses:

  • Move the person to a warm and dry area; do not leave the person alone.
  • Remove wet or tight clothes that may cut off blood flow to the affected area. Replace with warm, dry clothing or wrap in blankets.
  • Avoid rubbing a frostbitten area, which can cause damage to the skin and tissue.
  • Place the frostbitten area in lukewarm water (105 degrees F) and monitor the temperature to slowly warm the tissue. Warming takes from 25 to 40 minutes.
  • When normal feeling, movement, and skin color return, dry and wrap the affected area. Seek medical attention.
  • Have the person drink warm, sweet beverages, such as sugar water and sports drinks, and avoid drinks with caffeine in them.