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Dangerously cold temperatures prompt warnings

Cold Weather
As Atlantic Canada finds itself in a deep freeze this week, WorkSafeNB is reminding workers and employers to be vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves from the cold.

Very cold Arctic air combined with northwesterly winds will produce wind chill values as cold as -41 in some parts of the province.

Wearing the proper clothing in winter is only common sense, but it is especially important for those who work in the cold in industries such as construction, trucking, farming and logging, where the potential for hypothermia and frostbite is greater. For these workers, the appropriate apparel is the first line of protection in combatting the cold. WorkSafeNB recommends that workers dress in at least three layers. The first layer should be snug fitting and made of a material such as silk or polypropylene that wicks moisture away from the skin. The middle layer should be loose and of a warm material, such as fleece, wool or down, and the third, or outer layer, should be wind and waterproof (nylon or Gore-Tex, for example).

Significant body heat can be lost through the head, so a warm knit hat, or a liner under a hard hat, is imperative. Since mittens retain heat better, they should be worn for any work below -17º, and for work not requiring fine manual dexterity, gloves can be used below 4ºC for light work, and -7ºC for moderate work. Footwear should be insulated, slip-resistant and waterproof.

It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers are properly attired and supervised when working under extreme cold. WorkSafeNB’s Risk Alert, Surviving the Cold, provides excellent tips on how to work safely in the cold, including how to prevent and detect cold stress, and the proper clothing and personal protective equipment required.

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