While OSHA standards require employers to protect workers from risks stemming from fall protection, there is no OSHA requirement for employers to provide workers with ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items, used solely for protection from weather. Still, employers should take steps to protect employees against injuries and illnesses as a result of extreme temperatures. Here are eight pieces of PPE that could help prevent cold stress among outdoor workers.
1. Hard Hat Liner/Head Covering
A hard hat liner or head covering should not impair the fit of other protective equipment. A balaclava could be a viable option for preventing heat escape from the head while also covering the face and ears.
2. Eye Protection
Ultraviolet or UV ray protection equally is important in the winter as it is in the summer because as the sun’s rays reflect off snow.
3. Mouth/Face Covering
A mouth or face covering not only protects against the cold but wind burn as well.
4. Outer Layer
An effective outer layer will assist with protecting a worker against the cold and precipitation. In addition, it should be reflective and brightly colored.
5. Middle Layer
The middle layer should provide insulation even when wet. Wool, polypropylene or synthetic blends will provide protection as well as ventilation.
6. Bottom Layer
The layer closest to the body should be moisture-wicking. Common materials include synthetics such as polypropylene or a polyester/spandex blend.
Gloves should have a dual purpose: to insulate from the elements while providing protection against job-specific risks such as cuts. In addition, they still should have an appropriate level of dexterity for the job task.
8. Boots – Insulated, Waterproof and Studded
Keeping dry during cold weather is key, and this includes the extremities. Boots should be insulated and waterproof and also should provide traction to reduce the instance of slips, trips and falls.