The holidays are just around the corner, and for most of the country, so is cold weather. Many workers have jobs that require being out of doors or in the cold, putting them at increased risk from the dangers of cold weather and cold stress.

For workers who must spend part of the work day out-of-doors, cold weather can be a real hazard - in fact, it may be deadly. So now is the time to begin to plan how to help your employees to cope.

Cold temperatures, wet weather and wind can combine to create conditions which are truly hazardous to anyone who must work outside. Chilblains, hypothermia, frostnip and frostbite are possible.

Keep in mind that temperatures don't have to get below freezing for conditions to be dangerous- the right combination of low temperatures, wetness, and wind can quickly overwhelm the body's ability to warm itself.

Those with certain medical conditions or who are taking some medications may be more susceptible than others. Working in cold temperatures can also aggravate existing medical conditions such as arthritis, increase the risk of ergonomic injuries and affect dexterity, mental skills, and coordination. Workers who are in poor physical condition, have a poor diet, or who are older are at increased risk.

Workers in such industries as construction, commercial fishing and agriculture need to be especially mindful of the weather, its effects on the body, proper prevention techniques, and treatment of cold-related disorders.

What you can do
Employers have a responsibility to try to keep workers from harm in cold weather. Workers should be trained on dressing properly, especially on how to protect their heads, hands, and feet. Provide training on the symptoms of cold stress and to use the buddy system so that they can keep an eye on one another. KellerOnline can help.

The Topic called Cold stress equation shows the relationship between low temperatures, wetness, and wind speed and hypothermia. There is also a link in the Cold stress equation topic to an OSHA letter of interpretation on hand protection for cold environments.

Another Topic titled Temperature extremes speaks to both working in both hot and cold climates.

And don't forget about how the other KellerOnline Fun Stuff – cartoons, clip art, and games and puzzles – can be used to make your cold weather training more effective.

Knowing the facts on cold exposure and following a few simple guidelines can ensure that this season is a safe and healthy one.

For more information, visit the J.J. Keller & Associates Web site at www.jjkeller.com.