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How Welders Can Avoid Cold Stress Injuries This Winter

Posted by PK Safety Team on Nov 01st 2022

Winter weather and cold temperatures pose a significant risk to anyone working outside for long periods, and welders are no exception. The body loses heat faster than normal when the temperature drops below freezing. Windchill may worsen the problem as the body struggles to reheat itself. This can lead to cold stress and hypothermia, which can result in permanent tissue damage. Workers can use this winter welding safety guide to prepare for the job at hand.

Dress in Layers

Body temperature can vary rapidly in the cold. Welders will need to wear a series of layers that can be added or removed as necessary to maintain the proper body temperature. Proper layering begins with a base layer that can wick away moisture, a middle layer for insulation, such as a heated vest, and an outer layer that will protect the worker from workplace hazards, such as a flame resistant (FR) or arc rated (AR) jacket, pants, or overalls. These will help with protection against getting burned while providing protection from wind, rain or snow.

Cover Exposed Skin

No part of the worker’s skin should be exposed to the elements. Everyone on the crew should wear waterproof leather welding gloves with reinforced grips for safe equipment handling. The gloves should provide adequate insulation to keep the hands warm. Workers can also wear a neck gaiter or face hood to cover their head and neck. These items of clothing shouldn’t obstruct the person’s view or interfere with their ability to wear the proper safety equipment.

Eye Protection

In addition to protecting from dust and infrared light, welders also recognize that direct sunlight can reflect off ice and snow causing snow blindness. Welders should wear safety glasses, such as auto-darkening goggles that adjust their vision in conditions with varying degrees of light.

Keep Moving

A body at rest is more susceptible to the cold than a body in motion. Workers should do their best to keep moving if they sit idle for too long. They can stretch their legs and engage their muscles to raise their body temperature.

Stay Dry

All outer layers of clothing should be water resistant to keep the wearer dry, including the jacket, boots, gloves, and pants. Excess moisture will accelerate heat loss, increasing the risk of hypothermia. It’s always a good idea to keep an extra pair of clothes on hand in case someone gets wet.

Like any day in the field, workers should also remember to stay hydrated and take plenty of breaks indoors. Having multiple layers on hand and dressing in warm clothing is the best way to keep winter-related injuries at bay. Quality welds are the result of wearing the proper welding safety protection. Contact PK Safety to find the right winter workwear for your team.