Living in Canada means you will inevitably have to go outside in the winter. It also means there are people who have no choice but to work outside in some of the toughest weather this country has to offer.
With this in mind, it is integral to recognize the risks and hazards working outside in the winter brings. Failure to acknowledge or respect the dangers winter brings is a recipe for potential bodily harm or death.
• Wear layered clothing.
Wearing multiple layers of clothing allows the worker to adjust their protection based on current temperature. Take off layers as you get too warm and put them on as it gets colder.
• Take extra clothes.
Bring a change of clothes in case you get wet. Dry clothing always help keep workers warm, especially when working outdoors.
• Take a break.
During extremely cold or windy weather, take regular breaks to warm up before continuing work. If possible, take shelter indoors from time to time, to warm up that body. If it gets extremely cold, stop working immediately and get inside to warm up. Do not risk your life for a job.
• Drink up.
Even though it’s cold out, keep hydrated by drinking water or other warm drinks. You will still sweat when working, even in cold temperatures. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
• Take shelter.
In windy conditions and if the workspace allows it, set up a shelter to block the wind. This will help alleviate some of the difficulties of working in the cold.
• Know the signs.
Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Get inside if you begin to experience them. If you see a co-worker showing symptoms, take them inside immediately.
• Anti-slip shoes.
To avoid slipping on ice, wear winter boots with a strong tread. Spread sand or rock salt on the ice to provide a rough surface for footwear to grip.
• Clear the path.
Shovel pathways where employees, clients and/or the general public will be walking.
• Heat ventilation.
If using a non-electric heater to heat a shelter, ensure the shelter is ventilated to let gases like carbon monoxide escape. Or, use a heater where the heat generator can be placed outside while the heated air is pumped into the shelter.
• Drive safely.
When driving in winter, ensure your vehicle’s fluids are topped up. Be aware that the road can become icy, so drive slower and pay attention to changing conditions.