Cold Stress Prevention

Anyone working in a cold environment may be at risk of cold stress. This includes workers required to work outdoors in cold environments and indoor workers that spend the majority of their work shift in cold rooms without health and safety guidelines specific to these moderately cold temperatures.

A cold environment drives down the skin temperature, and, eventually, the internal body temperature. As a result, the body is forced to work harder to maintain its normal temperature. Whenever temperatures drop below normal and wind speed increases, heat leaves your body more rapidly, and the body’s ability to warm itself decreases. When the body is unable to warm itself, cold stress occurs. This can lead to serious cold-related illnesses and injuries, permanent tissue damage, and even death.

Risk Factors That Contribute to Cold Stress

Some of the risk factors that contribute to cold stress are:

  • Wetness, dampness, dressing improperly, and exhaustion
  • Predisposing health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
  • Poor physical conditioning

Injuries Due to Cold Stress

Employees who work in cold temperatures are subject to three major causes of cold stress that can lead to injury—frostbite,  hypothermia, and trench foot.


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