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10 Cold Weather Workplace Safety Tips

As we make our way through the winter months, we are met with an array of challenges that come with the cold. Challenges such as high costs for businesses from disrupted supply chains to road conditions stopping employees and customers getting to your location. Then there’s slips, trips, and falls, already some of the most common workplace injuries, escalate during winter months along with other cold weather injuries, such as frostbite, hypothermia, and more, causing an increase in workplace injuries, harming employees and leading to employer costs of $120,000 per injury. Those that work outside in the cold most, or all, of the time, such as construction workers, utility line workers, agricultural workers, and many others, are even more susceptible to these cold-related injuries.

In summary, cold weather can be quite dangerous to both employer and employees, but the good news is, the hazards it comes with are both manageable and foreseeable. Paying attention to these challenges and putting in place proactive safety measures is the best way to help protect you from injuries, days lost, and other disruptions, as well as reduce worker’s compensation claims and costs to business.

Follow these 10 cold weather safety tips to prepare for the hazards winter brings and ensure you are doing all you can to stay safe at work.

1. Provide adequate cold-weather training

Employers should ensure they provide training to all employees regarding cold-weather hazards. Cover topics such as:

  • Safe work practices for cold weather
  • Dressing appropriately for cold weather
  • Recognizing and treating cold stress injuries
  • Identifying dangerous winter environmental and workplace conditions
  • Eating and drinking for cold weather work

You can hold training sessions to go over these topics, or even introduce them into your meetings in the winter months. As an employee, you should engage in this training as much as possible and ask any questions you have so you know what to do in certain situations.

2. Develop cold-weather plans and procedures

Along with providing training to employees, employers should also create procedures for cold-weather situations that may arise and on the following:

  • Possible emergencies and how to respond to these incidents and injuries efficiently
  • Documented safe working practices
  • Plans to record any cold-related safety incidents and use after-action reports to review and make any changes necessary
  • Telework opportunities if workers cannot come into work due to unsafe conditions

Share these plans and procedures during training sessions and have documented versions available somewhere with easy employee access. Creating plans like these allow you to react quickly if a problem does arise and help you work towards making changes to prevent further incidents.

3. Dress appropriately for cold weather

Keeping yourself warm while working in the cold protects you from cold-related injuries such as hypothermia and frostbite. It’s recommended to wear 3 different layers of clothing with an additional outer layer to protect against the elements if necessary to ensure you stay warm, without compromising on being able to work efficiently.

  • Inner Layer – Wear clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin and allows for ventilation.
  • Middle Layer – A light layer that absorbs sweat and promotes insulation.
  • Outer Layer – Wear a heavier insulating layer that helps trap heat inside.
  • Optional Last Layer – Wear a windproof and waterproof layer that helps protect you from the elements.

To learn more about the right clothing to choose to protect yourself from the cold, check out our Winter Workwear Guide.

4. Always wear a hat

Along the lines of layering up and dressing appropriately, be sure to always wear a warm hat while working out in the cold. 30 – 50 percent of our body heat escapes through the top of our heads, the complete opposite of what we want to happen while working out in the chilly conditions. Wearing a hat can help to retain your body heat. Additionally, wearing a balaclava or facemask can help protect your face from injuries such as frostbite.

5. Wear Hi-Viz or heated gear

While we are talking about the best things to wear in the winter season, another good option to keep in mind is wearing high visibility clothing and heated gear. Winter weather is unpredictable. One minute it may be clear, and the next wind and snow have created whiteout conditions, severely limiting visibility. Preparing for this and wearing a high visibility outer layer can help ensure you are still visible even in these conditions. Wearing battery powered heated gear can also help provide additional warm and a continuous heat source while you’re working.

6. Schedule work according to the weather

While this may sound obvious, pay attention to daily weather forecasts, and schedule your work and tasks during the warmest parts of the day. This allows you to work outside during the warmer hours instead of in the cold. Keep your schedule flexible for unexpected changes in weather and if the need arises to completely re-schedule work entirely due to severe weather.

7. Know the symptoms of cold stress and cold-related injuries

Becoming familiar with the symptoms of cold stress and other cold-related injuries can help make sure you are staying mindful of your physical condition and know when you should take a break and warm up before the condition worsens.

Keep on the lookout for cold stress symptoms such as:

  • Reddening skin
  • Tingling
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Leg cramps
  • Numbness
  • Blisters

8. Maintain a winter emergency or cold weather safety kit

Providing these kits for employees or creating your own cold weather safety kit you can keep in your vehicle while working out on the job or somewhere that is always available when you need it can be very beneficial. The following is a list of ideas for items to include in your cold weather kit.

9. Keep in contact with employees

With the uncertainty of winter weather and injuries it can cause, it’s a good idea to keep in contact with all your employees at all times as they complete outside, potentially remote, work. Being able to reach out to them with updates and changes in weather conditions or plans as well as providing a way for them to reach you regarding emergencies or questions they have is extremely important. Some apps can also help you monitor employee locations, which can help with locating employees in emergency situations.

10. Keep work areas free of snow and ice

While this may not always be completely possible depending on the weather conditions and place of work, it’s in best interest to try and keep the areas where you are working free of slippery snow and ice that can cause slips, trips, and falls. Follow this quick checklist to help you reduce fall-related injuries.

  • Pay attention to where you are walking, at all times
  • Spread salt on paved surfaces that become iced over
  • Keep work areas free of clutter and move trip hazards out of the way
  • Keep work areas in good working condition
  • Provide adequate lighting that ensures all potential hazards are clearly visible
  • Put up temporary signs and barricades to mark potentially slippery areas
  • Use railings where possible in areas such as stairways
  • Wear proper footwear with good traction or traction cleats


Reach out to our experts today for help finding the perfect cold weather workwear and equipment that will help you keep you and your team safe this winter!



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