New condo building construction project at corner of Enterprise Way and Spall Avenue in Kelowna sees construction workers having to work outdoors in winter snow conditions. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)

WorkSafeBC encourages safety for outdoors workers

Winter cold and snow conditions create hazards for number of industries and occupations.

Cold temperatures and snowfall can raise hazards on outdoor work sites, something WorkSafeBC doesn’t want employers or employees to lose sight of.

WorkSafeBC sent out a reminder on Friday about precautions to be taken when working outdoors.

“Working in cold conditions can lead to serious injuries if you’re unprepared — frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes without proper clothing and equipment,” said Barry Nakahara, senior manager, prevention field services for WorkSafeBC.

Nakahara said 30 workers across B.C. were injured on the worksite as a result of cold exposure over the last three years.

“Thirty workers across the province is not a huge number thankfully. Falls from elevation and same levels where someone might trip over something or be harmed by operating equipment are far more prevalent for injuries on a day to day basis,” he said.

“But we do feel (cold exposure) is something important for us to pay attention to so we don’t get caught off guard by that trend changing.”

He said workers potentially working outdoors in winter that are in harms way include transport truck drivers, recreational instructors, equipment operators and attendants, construction workers, and utility and maintenance workers.

Nakahara added clothing products, from gloves to jackets, have improved to keep outdoors workers dry and avoid excessive sweating.

“Gortex lined gloves keep hands warm better, and clothing is better designed to keep moisture out while allowing your body to breathe so sweat doesn’t pool up inside of it.”

Among the WorkSafeBC safety tips for working in cold weather:

• wear warm head covering; most body heat lost is lost through the head

• layer clothing to allow sweat to escape and trap heat

• wear waterproof boots and always wears gloves or mittens

• pace any vigorous work with scheduled breaks away from the cold; fatigue is a risk factor in the cold

• stay hydrated — limit the amount of coffee or tea consumed and avoid alcohol

• heated shelters help protect construction workers from cold and damp environments

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