Working outside in the winter exposes employees to a number of hazards, including the risk of weather-related conditions such as frostbite. Cold weather can affect the body's senses, altering the ability to see, smell and feel, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Dressing to protect against the elements can help reduce the impact cold weather has on workers' health and productivity.
Washington L&I issued the following recommendations for working outdoors:
- Always dress with loose outer layers and tighter inner layers to help trap heat. Do not over-bundle.
- Use outer layers of clothing as a windbreaker. This will make the layers underneath more effective.
- To minimize sweat, remove layers if you begin to feel hot. Try to avoid getting clothing wet, as this reduces protection from the cold.
- Wear a hat or other head protection to help retain body heat.
- Be sure to protect your feet, as they likely will feel the effects of the cold first. Wool socks are effective, and four-buckle overshoes provide additional protection for your feet.
- Wear proper gloves. A thin pair of wool gloves worn under leather gloves will provide adequate protection.
- Be careful not to overdress, as this can restrict movement, increasing the likelihood of an incident.