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Winter is coming: Cold-related injury prevention awareness

Winter is coming: Cold-related injury prevention awareness
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As winter approaches temperatures are dropping. It’s essential to be aware of cold-related injuries. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress and cold-related injuries. Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies.

Hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot/immersion foot are the common types of cold-related injuries. When working in cold temperatures, focus on prevention strategies:

  • Do understand the effects of wind chill and guard against exposure.
  • Do use the buddy system. Act quickly to address cold weather injuries.
  • Do adjust the workload. Take breaks, warm-up, avoid over exertion.
  • Don’t ignore the warning signs/symptoms.
  • Don’t think cold-related injuries won’t happen to you!
  • Don’t drive in extreme weather conditions or leave your vehicle when stranded or when in an emergency.

To help workers best understand the signs and how to prevent them, the AWEA EHS O&M Working Group has created three awareness materials: a reference card, PowerPoint training module, and a sample cold weather policy. These materials will help you understand all the signs of cold-related injuries, develop plans and strategies to prevent them, and know what to do if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.

Stay warm, stay hydrated, and stay safe.

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Sabrina is a Manger on AWEA’s Standards and Asset Management team. In her role, Sabrina works closely with AWEA industry committees managing the development of technical manuals, guidance documents, and outreach and training programs for quality assurance, operations and maintenance, workforce development, and environmental, health, and safety. Sabrina also manages the administrative process for AWEA’s consensus standards development activities. Prior to joining AWEA, she spent twelve years with the U.S. Green Building Council where she was involved in a number of initiatives including the development and promotion of the LEED Green Building Rating System and organizational development working with international groups and Green Building Councils interested in adopting LEED.

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