The West Egg Group is committed to providing a safe, healthy workplace that promotes a high level of job satisfaction and a respectful work environment. We believe that it is a shared responsibility of all employees to work towards the constant improvement of our workplace. To assist the organization in maintaining a safe work environment, we require that all employees of The West Egg Group be familiar with and follow our Cold Stress Prevention Policy, at all times.
Cold stress or hypothermia can affect workers who are not protected against cold. The cold may occur naturally (e.g., from weather conditions) or be created artificially (e.g., from refrigerated environments). Cold is a physical hazard in many workplaces. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses may occur, leading to permanent tissue damage and even death.
Workplaces exposed to cold, wet, and/or windy conditions include
Exposure to cold causes two major health problems:
When the body can no longer maintain core temperature by constricting blood vessels, it shivers to increase heat production. Maximum severe shivering develops when the body temperature has fallen to 35°C (95°F).
Signs and Symptoms
The most critical aspect of hypothermia is the body’s failure to maintain its deep core temperature.
Lower body temperatures present the following signs and symptoms:
In addition, acute exertion in cold can constrict blood vessels in the heart. This is particularly important for older workers or workers with coronary disease who may have an increased risk of a heart attack.
Early signs of hypothermia include
The next stage includes
In severe cases, hypothermia resembles death. Patients must be treated as though they are alive.
Symptoms of severe hypothermia include
First Aid for Hypothermia
Stop further cooling of the body and provide heat to begin rewarming.
*Administer artificial respiration if necessary.
Frostbite is a common injury caused by exposure to severe cold or by contact with extremely cold objects. It occurs more readily from touching cold metal objects than from exposure to cold air. That’s because heat is rapidly transferred from skin to metal.
The body parts most commonly affected by frostbite are the face, ears, fingers, and toes.
When tissue freezes, blood vessels are damaged. This reduces blood flow and may cause gangrene.
Signs and symptoms
Frostbite’s symptoms vary. They are not always painful but often include a sharp, prickling sensation.
The first indication of frostbite is skin that looks waxy and feels numb.
Once tissues become hard, the case is a severe medical emergency.
Severe frostbite results in blistering which usually takes about ten days to subside.
Once damaged, tissues will always be more susceptible to frostbite in the future.
First Aid for Frostbite
Various medical conditions can increase the risk of cold injury:
Check with your health practitioner to learn whether the medications you are taking may have adverse effects in a cold environment.
The best protection against cold-related health risks is to be aware and be prepared. Workers should recognize the signs and symptoms of overexposure in themselves and others. Pain in the extremities may be the first warning sign. Any worker shivering severely should come in out of the cold.
Select protective clothing to suit the cold, the job, and the level of physical activity.
Ontario has no legislated exposure limits for working in cold environments.
The table below was developed by the Saskatchewan Department of Labour and adopted by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). It indicates Threshold Limit Values for properly clothed personnel working at temperatures below freezing.