Construction projects continue regardless of the weather, so cold stress management becomes a top priority when the temperature drops. Making sure a construction site is safe and productive requires understanding the subtle signs of cold stress and putting preventative measures in place.
The team at Advanced CT will explore the warning signals of cold-related illnesses as well as the proactive steps of cold stress management in this blog, so construction teams can keep their crew healthy and productive throughout the bitterly cold winter.
Symptoms of Cold Stress
To protect the health of construction workers exposed to cold weather conditions, it is essential to recognize the signs of cold stress. Here is a more thorough description of how to recognize the symptoms of several cold-related illnesses:
When the body loses heat more quickly than it can make it, it experiences hypothermia, which results in a dangerously low body temperature. Observing alterations in a person’s physical and mental condition is necessary for identifying hypothermia symptoms. These may consist of:
Shivering: Shivering, ranging from mild to severe, is a warning sign of hypothermia. The body is attempting to produce heat in this way.
Confusion: As body temperature decreases, confusion of the mind and trouble focusing may develop.
Slurred Speech: Due to reduced brain function, hypothermic people may talk slowly and erratically.
Drowsiness: They may experience extreme fatigue or sluggishness and struggle to stay awake.
When skin and underlying tissues freeze, it causes frostbite, which frequently affects the fingers, toes, nose, and ears. In order to identify frostbite, search for the following symptoms:
Numbness: Initial numbness of the affected regions makes it difficult to sense pain or touch.
Tingling or Prickling Sensation: Prior to going numb, people may first feel tingling or a pins-and-needles feeling in the afflicted regions.
Pale or Hardened Skin: Frostbitten skin frequently has a pale or white appearance and might feel waxy or hard to the touch.
Long-term exposure to wet and chilly environments can result in the condition known as trench foot. It mostly has an impact on the feet. Observing the following signs can help you identify trench foot:
Redness and Swelling: Foot soreness, swelling, and redness are some symptoms of the condition.
Numbness: As the condition worsens, numbness in the feet might develop.
Tingling or Burning Sensation: Some people report feeling a burning or tingling sensation in their feet.
Chilblains are a painful skin inflammatory condition that develops after prolonged contact with cold temperatures but not below freezing. Observing skin changes, such as these, might help you identify chilblains.
Itchy, Red Skin: Chilblains frequently result in red, itchy skin, usually on the fingers, toes, nose, or ears.
Swelling: Affected regions could also swell.
Blisters: Blisters may develop on the afflicted skin as a result of chilblains in more serious situations.
It’s crucial to recognize these signs and take action right away if you want to stop the spread of cold-related diseases in construction workers. It’s critical to act quickly to warm up, find shelter, and, if required, seek medical assistance if any of these symptoms are present in order to avoid further consequences.
Cold Stress Management
In order to stay warm, it’s important to layer your clothing. To prevent perspiration from touching the skin, start with a base layer that wicks moisture. This layer aids in maintaining dryness and stops heat loss from the body as a result of moisture. To trap heat close to the body, put an insulating material like fleece or down over the base layer. Finally, choose an outer layer that is windproof and waterproof to fend against the elements. To keep your feet warm and dry, don’t forget to wear insulated, waterproof boots.
Use Proper Gear
Covering exposed body parts is essential in severely cold weather. Use insulated, waterproof gloves or mittens since the hands are prone to frostbite. A scarf or balaclava can help protect the face from the elements and the danger of frostbite. High-visibility apparel is also essential for safety since reduced visibility during the winter might result in accidents.
Take Breaks Frequently
Cold stress might develop if you work nonstop in cold conditions. In order to give workers a chance to warm up, it is crucial to plan regular breaks in a warm, dry environment. Workers can consume warm meals or snacks and drink water during these intervals. Maintaining body temperature depends on getting enough food and water.
Stay Hydrated and Nourished
Your body has to work more to remain warm in cold conditions, which might result in more energy and water loss. Drink hot, sugary liquids like tea or hot cocoa to help keep your body temperature stable. Consume high-energy meals like almonds, granola bars, and hot soups to give your body the fuel it needs to produce heat.
Know the Wind Chill Factor
The amount of wind chill has a big impact on how cold it feels. Strong gusts may make it seem significantly colder even when the air temperature is above freezing, which raises the risk of cold stress. To decide if it is safe to work outside, pay attention to the weather forecasts and the wind chill levels. If necessary, change work hours to reduce exposure to extremely cold wind chill.
Regular Health Checks
Assess the health of construction workers on a regular basis, especially during very cold times. These examinations can assist in spotting early indications of cold stress or other disorders. Monitoring body temperature, checking for trench foot or frostbite, and gauging general comfort are all aspects of health exams. If any problems are found, act right once to fix them, whether that means warming up the area, getting medical help, or planning more breaks.
Advanced CT – Leaders in Occupational Health & Safety
It is impossible to emphasize the significance of cold stress management in the harsh world of construction, where projects advance and deadlines loom large. Protecting the health and welfare of construction workers comes first when winter blows its frigid breath. Construction teams can not only secure the safety of their personnel but also maximize output amid the worst winter circumstances by being aware of the signs and adhering to these standards.
Please contact us when you are looking to protect your team during winter weather. At Advanced CT, we are acutely aware of how crucial it is to protect your construction crew from the bitter winter weather. You get the information and abilities necessary to master cold stress management through our thorough health and safety training programs. Don’t let the chilly weather affect the productivity and safety of your work site. Give your staff the skills they need to succeed in any weather by taking action right now. By signing up with Advanced CT now, you can make sure that your crew is ready to tackle the difficulties of winter.