Risk area cold injuries


Our body is good at adapting to different weather conditions, but too low temperatures can be harmful. We are naturally protected from cold to varying degrees depending on our age, any medical conditions, and muscle mass. Body parts that stick out from the body are more exposed than others, such as the nose, fingers, toes, and ears.


Cold injuries can cause lifelong problems such as reduced sensation and numbness. In the worst case, cold injuries can lead to tissue death (frostbite). Other consequences include colds, fever, lung problems, etc., which not only affect the person who is exposed but also the productivity of the company.

What creates cold injuries in the work environment?

Work that takes place in low temperatures can cause cold injuries. If you are outdoors, not only is the temperature a factor but also the wind. The wind strength means that we have an effective temperature that is lower than on the thermometer, the stronger the wind, the lower the effective temperature. Work that often switches between high intensity and low intensity means that we first sweat and then cool down faster as moisture (sweat) cools us down faster and has a worse effect on cold than temperature. Do not stand still if you are sweaty when it is cold. Some work environments can be cold and high intensity, which means increased risk. These can be in, for example, freezer rooms, the food industry, etc.


If you cannot eliminate the risk (build it away), you need to protect yourself. It is important to dress properly and have control over the body's signals. Everyone is different and can tolerate different amounts, which means a personal needs analysis.


Personal protection against cold injuries starts with dressing properly, the layering principle is a good model. Start with a moisture-wicking material directly against the skin, then an insulating mid-layer, and a protective outer layer. Gloves and shoes should be of an insulated nature with protection against moisture. They should be slightly larger to maximize freedom of movement, a hand or foot that has space around it has the ability to retain warm air longer. The head is extra sensitive, at 10 degrees Celsius below zero, as much as 50% of body heat is lost through the head, even more at lower temperatures. Make sure to have a good hat for the purpose.