Photo courtesy of OSHA Training
With the plummeting temperatures still in place for much of Northern BC including Prince George, Worksafe BC reminds employers and workers to have a plan when battling the cold.
From 2013 to 2018, almost 70 workers in the province sustained injuries from cold exposure including one death in the Okanagan that occurred in 2014.
In an interview with My PG Now, Manager of Prevention Field Services, Barry Nakahara explained the other risks outdoor workers face this time of year.
“Workers who primarily outdoors can be at risk of things like frostbite, cold stress, and hypothermia, the wind is also a complicating factor in this situation as well as any case that causes a worker to get wet or damp.”
“When those cold conditions exist employers need to take the time to asses the situation, asses the work that they are trying to do in those environments and to try and come up with plans and controls from preventing these types of things from happening.”
Temperatures have gotten as cold as -37 degrees Celsius this week putting many at-risk occupations further into the line of fire including transport truck drivers, recreational instructors, operators and attendants, construction workers along with utility and maintenance workers.
However, the biggest deterrent from working outdoors this time of year isn’t the temperature itself.
“The wind is the biggest factor when you’re outdoors, you need to make sure that you have reasonable plans in place to protect your workforce. One additional thing I would like to add is that in the winter months when you are working outdoors the sun is normally low in the sky and when it is cold like this, it’s normally a blue ski and you run the risk of UV exposure to the eyes.”
One question probably on everybody’s mind is how does the approach to cold weather change or is similar to the when it’s extremely hot during the summer?
Nakahara states a lot of the procedures are generally the same.,
“You’ll schedule or plan the work so you’re limiting the exposure to the cold much as you would do in very hot weather so you’ll want to take consideration into contact hand and skin contact with cold surfaces and cold tools.”
Some tips to protect yourself from the cold include minimizing skin exposure, staying hydrated and to limit your intake of coffee and tea as well as wearing a hat to retain body heat.