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Get Ready for Winter Work
Working outside in the winter can be a dirty job, but many of us have to do it. Are you ready for winter work? Here are some reminders about dressing for the weather and staying strong, healthy and safe:
· Two big concerns of working or simply spending time outdoors in cold weather are frostbite and hypothermia. Both can occur at much higher temperatures than many people realize. For example, exposed skin can start to freeze at just 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius) and deep frostbite can cause blood clots and even gangrene. Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition caused by loss of body temperature, even in winter conditions people might not consider particularly nasty. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, confusion,
light-headedness and profuse sweating. Without medical treatment the victim can lose consciousness and die.
· Wear the right gloves for the work you are doing. Gloves should have enough insulation to keep you warm and prevent frostbite, but be thin enough so you can feel what you are doing if you are manipulating controls or tools. Gloves which are too thick can also make your hands and wrists work too hard trying to hold on to objects, causing repetitive strain injury.
· Dress in layers of light-weight clothing which keep you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothes. Remove layers as necessary to prevent overheating and perspiring which can lead to chills or hypothermia later. Remember that wet clothing is 20 times less warm than dry clothing. Wear a hat and you'll stay much warmer when working in cold conditions. As much as half your body heat can go up in steam off the top of a bare head. Protect your ears from frostbite as well by wearing a hat that will cover your ears, or use ear muffs.
· While donning a scarf or muffler might help keep your neck warm in the cold weather, it could also kill you if you work near rotating machinery. Check your winter wardrobe for entanglement hazards such as loose sleeves and dangling drawstrings.
· Keep your safety eyewear from fogging up in the cold. Investigate anti-fog coatings and wipes to see if these products are appropriate for your eyewear. If you have to keep taking off your safety eyewear because it fogs up, it isn't protecting you.
Look at the soles of your winter footwear. Your shoes or boots should have adequate tread to prevent slips and falls on wet or icy surfaces. For extremely slippery situations, you can attach clogs or cleats to your footwear. Slow down when walking across slippery surfaces and be especially careful on ladders, platforms and stairways.
* Working in the cold and even travelling to and from work in the winter takes lots of energy. Cold weather can strain your heart, even if you aren't overexerting yourself, so be sure to pace yourself when lifting heavy objects or shovelling
Top ten citations found by SEE, Inc. for 2017.
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The chart above shows the top ten citations found by SEE, Inc. for 2017.
As you can see there are several categories that we need to focus on.
1. Ladders —All ladders shall be maintained in a safe condition. All ladders shall be inspected regularly, with the intervals between inspections being determined by use and exposure. These required frequent inspections must be documented. Perhaps the easiest way is to have stickers or tags directly on the ladder itself and to have a ladder log to ensure they are all inspected as required. Unfortunately frequently is a very subjective word. Truly each ladder must be evaluated on it's use and exposure to damaging influences.
You will want to inspect a ladder utilized daily that is in a high exposure area much more often then the office step stool used every now and then.
2. SDS—Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) to communicate the hazards of hazardous chemical products. As of June 1, 2015, the HCS will require new SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include the section numbers, the headings, and associated information under the headings below:
Section 1, Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
Section 2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
Section 4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
Section 5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
Section 6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
Section 7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); ACGIH Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the SDS where available as well as appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
Section 9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical's characteristics.
Section 10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
Section 11, Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
Section 12, Ecological information* Section 13, Disposal considerations* Section 14, Transport information* Section 15, Regulatory information*
Section 16, Other information, includes the date of preparation or last revision.
3. Electrical—these citations cover everything from transformers to electrical cords. Any exposed wires are an electrocution hazard. Power cords with exposed wires, missing ground pins must be removed from site and replaced. Circuit breakers must be labeled and any unused openings plugged
4. Fall Protection—anytime you are working above 6’ you must have the proper fall protection in use. This may be personal fall equipment (harness, lanyard, etc), warning line system or monitor man system.
5. PPE—proper PPE must be worn at all times. This includes hard hats (remember-no ball caps under hard hats), safety glasses, proper work boots, gloves and any other PPE required by work. If your work requires you to wear a respirator—you must be fit tested first.