When working in a cold environment or outdoors in cold weather, you are at risk of developing cold-related illnesses and injuries. Cold-related hazards can be extremely dangerous and can even cause death or permanent damage. This infographic created by EM Training Solutions Ltd features some key facts about cold stress and how to avoid it.
Who is at risk of Cold Stress?
Workers in the construction, agriculture, maritime and commercial fishing industries are most at risk of developing cold stress due to working in extreme weather conditions. However, cold stress isn’t exclusive to outdoor workers; it can also be a risk for those that work in cold warehouses, cold storage or those without adequate heating within their building.
Other individual factors that contribute to higher risk for cold stress include:
- Not being physically fit
- Having an underlying illness or condition
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Working in wet or damp conditions
- Exposed to vibration from tools
- Working without proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Not assimilated to the cold
Cold Stress Stats and Figures
Public Health England’s 2014 Cold Weather Plan notes that extreme cold weather has a direct effect on the incidence of heart attack, stroke, respiratory disease, flu, falls and injuries and hypothermia.
When the outdoor temperature drops below 5-8°C respiratory and cardiovascular health problems can occur, as the temperature continues to drop the risk of death and illness increases. A total of 168,000 cold-related deaths were recorded in the UK over the last 5 years, and the UK also has the second worst rate of ‘winter deaths’ in Europe.
Take a look at the facts and tips below on how you can safely protect yourself from cold-related illness when working outdoors.