As sure as death and taxes, the Polar Vortex over Northeast Ohio a couple of weeks ago will be back! Maybe not this year, but it will be back! For Artisan Contractors who have to be out in these terrible conditions there are many things you can do to protect your employees and property.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) does not define the term cold stress because it varies by territory, but the Act states employers must protect workers from recognized hazards, including cold stress hazards that are causing or are a likely cause of death or serious physical harm in the workplace.
Employers should train workers to prevent cold stress. Training should include:
- How to recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that can lead to cold stress.
- How to recognize the symptoms of cold stress, how to prevent it and what to do to help those who are affected.
- How to select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions
- Monitor workers physical condition.
- Schedule frequent short breaks in warm dry areas, to allow the body to warm up.
- Schedule work during the warmest part of the day.
- Use the buddy system (work in pairs).
- Provide warm, sweet beverages. Avoid drinks with alcohol.
- Provide engineering controls such as radiant heaters
As an employer if your contractors are outside in cold conditions consider providing a set of proper clothing to each employee that should include.
- An inner layer of wool, silk or synthetic (polypropylene) to keep moisture away from the body. Thermal wear, wool, silk or polypropylene, inner layers of clothing that will hold more body heat than cotton.
- A middle layer of wool or synthetic material to provide insulation even when wet.
- An outer wind and rain protection layer that allows some ventilation to prevent overheating.
- Knit mask to cover face and mouth (if needed).
- Hat that will cover their ears as well. A hat will help keep their whole body warmer. Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head.
- Insulated gloves (water resistant if necessary), to protect the hands.
- Insulated and waterproof boots to protect the feet
While the Polar Vortex may only drop down on Northeast Ohio once or twice a year, the Trusted Choice Agents at Richey-Barrett Insurance are always available to assist you in creating a comprehensive insurance plan your contracting business.