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NIOSH Guidance for Cold Work Conditions

By William Atkinson | Feb 15, 2016
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A new report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), outlines recommendations for improving thermal comfort for employees who work in moderately cold environments.

According to the report, these environments can negatively affect many workers. In its research, NIOSH found several sources of employee discomfort, including air drafts, insufficient use of gloves for tasks requiring manual dexterity, and a lack of knowledge about how to work safely in a cold environment.

Among NIOSH's recommendations for employers are to encourage employees to change out of clothes if and when they become wet, consider having employees wear thinner fingertip-less liner gloves underneath heavier gloves to allow for dexterity but still provide warmth and protection, implement a replacement schedule for gloves, rotate employees between warmer and colder areas throughout the work day if possible, provide hand warming equipment at the work site, minimize work that requires manual dexterity in cold environments whenever possible, and educate employees on the symptoms of cold stress.

A related NIOSH website provides detailed information on the symptoms of the various types of cold stress (the most common of which are hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains), as well as first aid for each symptom and other recommendations for workers and employers.

About The Author

ATKINSON has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact him at [email protected]

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