Agricultural work doesn’t stop when the winter weather settles in. Working outside in sub-freezing conditions can be done safely by preparing ahead of time. Heat and cold stress training is a quick and simple way to prepare you and your employees for winter working conditions.
When preparing for working outside, the check the weather first. Consider the temperature, wind chill, humidity, and precipitation. Then you should choose clothes, a hat, gloves, scarf, footwear, and face protection according to the weather.
Check the Weather
Cold temperatures combined with high wind makes you feel colder. These two factors together are the wind chill temperature. It is important to know the wind chill temperature when deciding how to protect yourself from cold stress.
Moderate Risk: Wind chill of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius) to -16 degrees Fahrenheit (-27 degrees Celsius)
You are at risk of hypothermia and frostbite if you are outside in the moderate risk range for long periods without adequate protection. Plan to wear layers of warm clothing and an outer layer that is wind resistant. Layers are better protection than one thick insulated layer.
Keep active but control you work pace so that you stay dry. Your base layer should be the thinnest layer and made of polyester that will “wick” moisture away from your skin. Avoid wearing cotton because when it gets wet, it does not dry quickly or insulate well. You should have middle layers that you can remove if you start getting too warm and start sweating. If you take a break, put these layers back on. If the weather is wet, make sure your outer layer is waterproof as well as windproof.
Protect bare skin with a hat, gloves or mittens, and a scarf or neck gaiter. Wear a hat that covers your ears or a hard hat liner that does not compromise the protections of the hard hat. Gloves should be insulated and waterproof if there is a chance for rain or snow. In the colder temperature range, mittens should be worn.
You should protect your feet with insulated water-resistant boots. Boots should be breathable and let perspiration evaporate while maintaining their water-resistant qualities. Leather boots with waterproofing products with felt insoles work well. There are other materials that will keep your feet dry as well. If you are in extremely wet conditions such as standing in water or snow, your boots should be completely waterproof. A thin sock liner made of silk, nylon, or thin wool and a thicker out sock will keep your feet drier and more comfortable. Make sure that your socks do not make your boots too tight.
Face and Eye Protection
Face ad eye protection are used to protect you from the sun, blowing snow, wind, and cold temperatures. In extremely cold temperatures, cover your nose and mouth with the layers that keep you most comfortable. Eye protection can fog from the moisture in your breath. It will help if your mouth and nose covering are sealed across the bridge of your nose and put your glasses over the top. Goggles that do not fog up may be necessary in extreme conditions.
For more cold weather safety tips and training, visit agsafetytraining.com.
Good luck and stay safe!