Logging will never be considered a “safe” profession, but frigid temperatures add a dangerous on-the-job foe for your workers to contend with in the dead of winter. Ensuring jobsite safety for your workers requires that you understand what you’re crew is up against.
What is frostbite?
Frostbite is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and normally strikes the ears, cheeks, chin, nose, fingers, and toes.
When a person’s body is exposed to cold temperatures, the blood vessels constrict in an attempt to preserve heat. This causes a reduction in blood flow that can eventually lead to irreversible tissue damage and death. In extreme cases, the part of the body affected by frostbite may have to be amputated.
- Bluish, waxy, or pale skin
- Numbness or tingling in the affected areas
- Aching or stinging
What is trench foot?
If a logger’s feet are consistently wet and exposed to temperatures lower than 60 degrees, he or she may be at risk for developing trench foot – a dangerous condition that is similar to frostbite and can result in severe damage to the foot, even gangrene.
- Reddening skin
- Numbness or stinging/tingling
- Bleeding underneath the skin
How You Can Promote Jobsite Safety in Cold Weather
As an employer, you can help keep your timber workers safe from the majority of cold-weather safety issues by following a few, simple rules:
- Schedule outdoor jobs during the hottest part of the day.
- Assign extra relief workers to longer jobs or jobs that require workers to be outside in extremely cold temperatures.
- Provide workers with an area onsite where they can go to warm up.
- Carefully monitor your workers for signs of cold stress
- Educate your workers about the importance of wearing the proper gear to protect against cold weather (e.g. several layers of loose clothing to facilitate blood flow and physical movement; boots that are both insulated and waterproof)
Want to learn more about how to enhance job-site safety for your workers? Check out Longleaf Forestry Insurance’s Blog.