As a western region-based company, we're fortunate to work in mild weather most of the time. However, for work led by our Northern California teams and AIS projects outside of the state, we do occasionally encounter cold weather conditions. Even in Southern California, AIS crews are often dispatched to local mountains and high desert areas where temperatures fall below freezing. Perhaps even more because these conditions are unusual for our team, AIS recognizes the importance of safety training for cold weather conditions. Below are some reminders about dressing for and working in cold weather conditions. Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite refers to frozen tissue in the body as a result of exposure to cold. It is likely to occur in extremities (hands, feet, ears, nose) and places where skin is exposed. The best prevention for frostbite is to ensure that all areas of your skin are covered. Avoid working in wet clothing. Also avoid constrictive clothing, as restricted blood flow and poor circulation contribute to frostbite.
Exposed skin can start to freeze at just 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Deep frostbite can cause blood clotting and even gangrene.
Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition caused by loss of body temperature. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, confusion, light-headedness and profuse sweating. Hypothermia is prevented by staying warm and keeping dry.
Wear the Right Gloves
Gloves should have enough insulation to keep you warm and prevent frostbite, but be thin enough so that you can feel what you are doing if you are manipulating controls or tools.
Gloves which are too thick can also make your hands and wrists work too hard to hold objects, potentially causing strain or repetitive motion injury.
Wear the Right Clothes
Layers of light-weight clothing keep you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothes.
Do not work in wet clothing. Wet clothing is 20 times less warm than dry clothing.
Wear a hat. As much as half your body heat can escape from the top of your head.
Protect your ears: wear a hat that covers them, or use earmuffs.
Check your winter wardrobe for entanglement hazards, such as scarves, loose sleeves and drawstrings--anything that could get caught in machinery.
Keep an Eye on Eye Wear
Keep your safety eye wear from fogging up in the cold. Use anti-fog coatings and wipes that are appropriate for your eye wear.
Prevent Slip & Falls
Look at the soles of your winter footwear. Do they have adequate tread to prevent slips and falls on wet or icy surfaces?
Walk slowly and carefully on icy or slippery surfaces. Be especially careful on ladders, platforms and stairways.
Get plenty of rest. Working in the cold, even traveling to and from work in the winter, can be unusually draining. Rest up so you can be alert and responsive.
AIS Emergency Response at work on a power emergency in the San Bernardino Mountains.