Proper Protective Clothing for Winter
It is important to remember to take proper precautions at work to keep yourself warm and safe during the winter months. Proper protective clothing is the key to keeping yourself safe in the workplace if you are exposure to outdoor conditions.
Winter Workers- Protecting Yourself With the Appropriate Gear
- Eye protection must be separate from nose and mouth protection to prevent frosting and fogging of eye glasses.
- Make sure to select the appropriate eye protection for the job you are doing.
- Gloves should be worn below 4 degrees for light work and below -7 degrees for moderate work.
- Any work done in temperatures below -17 degrees should be done wearing mittens.
- Felt-linned, rubber-bottomed, leather-topped boots are the best footwear for working in the cold winter months.
- The leather in the boots allow the boots to breathe and allows perspiration to escape so your feet do not get wet.
- Removable insoles will help for cleaning your boots and drying wet boots fast.
- Protective clothing should be worn at or below 4 degrees.
- Temperature, weather conditions, and level of activity should be taken into account when selecting proper protective clothing.
- If you are doing physical and will be perspiring, you may want to wear less protective clothing. Perspiration will make the clothing wet which will increase risk of cold injuries.
- You should wear multiple layers with the inner layers providing the most insulation and the outer layer being waterproof. Cotton is not recommended as it gets wet very quickly.
- Make sure to wear the proper sock thickness for your boot. A sock that is too thick will diminish the socks insulation and squeeze your foot which will slow blood flow and increase risk for cold related injuries.
- Always have extra socks on hand to change throughout the day when available.
What are some additional prevention tips?
To prevent excessive sweating while working, remove clothing in the following order:
- mittens or gloves (unless you need protection from snow or ice),
- headgear and scarf.
- Then open the jacket at the waist and wrists, and
- Remove layers of clothing.
As you cool down, follow the reverse order of the above steps.
Prevent contact of bare skin with cold surfaces (especially metallic) below -7°C as well as avoiding skin contact when handling evaporative liquids (gasoline, alcohol, cleaning fluids) below 4°C. Sitting or standing still for prolonged periods should also be avoided.
Balanced meals and adequate liquid intake are essential to maintain body heat and prevent dehydration. Eat properly and frequently. Working in the cold requires more energy than in warm weather because the body is working to keep the body warm. It requires more effort to work when wearing bulky clothing and winter boots especially when walking through snow.
Drink fluids often especially when doing strenuous work. For warming purposes, hot non-alcoholic beverages or soup are suggested. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee should be limited because it increases urine production and contributes to dehydration. Caffeine also increases the blood flow at the skin surface which can increase the loss of body heat.
Alcohol should not be consumed as it causes expansion of blood vessels in the skin (cutaneous vasodilation) and impairs the body’s ability to regulate temperature (it affects shivering that can increase your body temperature). These effects cause the body to lose heat and thus increase the risk of hypothermia.