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Winter is in full swing, and you can tell by the chill in your bones. Every season has some hazards, but cold weather injury can creep up on you and cause lasting harm. Hypothermia and frostbite are the primary concerns this time of year. But with the right precautions and hand protection, you can work a lot more safely outdoors.
Here’s how you can help avoid frostbite and hypothermia when Old Man Winter is wreaking havoc.
1. Keep Your Head Covered
A lot of body heat is lost through the top of your head, which is why Mayo Clinic advises that you keep covered when working outdoors in cold weather. Even if you wear a hardhat, you also need to have thermal protection against your skin.
Your face and neck also lose heat, and are at risk of frostbite. Wearing full cover garments such as close-fitting, insulating hoods that cover everything but your eyes is a good idea, since noses and ears are especially prone to injury from the cold.
2. Avoid Overexertion and Stay Dry
Since exertion is part of the job for most people who work outdoors, there’s a good reason to take it easier when the weather is dangerously cold. When you work too hard, you sweat. Sweat dampens your clothing, which increases body heat loss. Feet are at a high risk of frostbite, so choose socks that help keep you warm even if they do get damp. Wool is a good choice, as are some newer synthetics that combine moisture wicking with insulation.
Extremities aren’t the only areas where you could suffer frostbite. Wear clothing in layers instead of one or two heavy garments, and keep a moisture-wicking layer next to your skin. On the outer layers, opt for water-repellent fabrics that keep out rain and melting snow.
3. Don’t Work Alone
Even if you prefer to do solitary work, the Safety Services Company says that wintertime calls for the buddy system. It’s not just a good idea — it can actually prevent you from getting hypothermia and frostbite.
Symptoms of mild hypothermia include fatigue, confusion, and lack of coordination, among others. Once it advances to moderate hypothermia, decision-making is also impaired. However, when you use the buddy system, you each have someone else watching out for danger signs.
4. Always Wear Your PPE
The most important part of your winter weather gear is obviously your personal protective equipment (aka PPE); the most important tools that you own are your hands. So keep them safe from frostbite with cold weather gloves. Many of the gloves that you already use are available in cold weather versions. Add Thermolite® 13-gauge Glove Liners as an under layer to keep moisture away, too.
There’s no reason to sacrifice function for protection against cold weather, not when there are so many gloves to choose from. We have winter gloves for good dexterity, mechanic work, cut resistance, anti-impact, and many others.
Winter weather is no joke. While the summer heat can cause its own problems, the cold is painful, and potentially deadly. The best advice for staying safe is to wear the right kind of clothing, stay hydrated, eat a hot meal, and wear protective gloves to keep hypothermia and frostbite away.
Want to ensure that your workers are wearing the right pair of winter work gloves for their application and its corresponding hazards? Click the thumbnail below to have a look our helpful “Guide to Choosing the Best Winter Work Gloves” infographic — we know your hands will thank you!
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Hand Injury Rates are Reduced by 60% when using the right gloves.