Washington State University
SAFETY POLICIES AND PROCEDURES MANUAL

SHOP / AGRICULTURAL WORKPLACE SAFETY
3.42
New 12-99
Reviewed 7-13
Environmental Health and Safety
335-3041

Working in Cold Environments

PDF link

OVERVIEW
Employees working in extreme cold weather may be exposed to conditions that can cause frostbite and hypothermia. All department personnel are responsible for protecting employees from cold exposure injuries.

This section describes:
COLD WEATHER CONDITIONS

Extreme Cold Weather
Extreme cold conditions exist when the equivalent chill temperature is at or below -25 degrees Fahrenheit. See chart in the PDF version of 3.42.4.
Equivalent Chill Temperature
Equivalent chill temperature is a function of the actual (ambient) temperature and the estimated wind speed. To determine the equivalent chill temperature, refer to the chart on 3.42.4.

Current air temperature and wind speeds can be obtained through TV and radio newcasts and reports, and through WWW weather sites, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at:
http://weather.noaa.gov/weather/WA_cc_us.html
Normally-Expected Weather
Normally-expected conditions exist when the equivalent chill temperature is above -25 degrees Fahrenheit. See the chart on 3.42.4.
EXTREME COLD WEATHER PROTECTION
Employees required to work in extreme cold weather conditions are to use protective outerwear and work/warm-up schedules to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. See chart on 3.42.4.

Supervisors must consider employee requests to use extreme cold weather protective outerwear regardless of temperature.
Department Responsibilities
The employing department must provide extreme cold weather protective equipment. Extreme cold weather is defined as an equivalent chill temperature of at or below -25 degrees Fahrenheit (see chart on 3.42.4).

Extreme cold weather protective equipment includes items such as insulated gloves, hats, coveralls, and footwear.
Supervisor Responsibilities
Supervisors are to:
Employee Responsibilities
Employees required to work in extreme cold weather conditions are to:
NORMAL WEATHER APPAREL
Employees required to work in normally-expected weather conditions are to provide and use personal apparel suitable for the conditions.
COLD EXPOSURE INJURIES

Frostbite
Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the fluids around the cells of body tissue. Areas of the body most vulnerable to frostbite are the nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes.
Initial Symptoms
Initial symptoms of frostbite usually include:
Additional Symptoms
Additional symptoms include:
Hypothermia
Hypothermia is the lowering of the body's core temperature to abnormal levels.
Initial Symptoms
The initial symptoms of hypothermia usually include:
Additional Symptoms
Additional symptoms include:
POSSIBLE FROSTBITE OR HYPOTHERMIA

Supervisor Actions
Upon observing, or being notified of, an employee experiencing the initial symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia, the supervisor is to ensure that the employee is moved to a warm location.

If symptoms worsen or additional symptoms appear, the supervisor is to recommend that the employee seek medical attention.

The supervisor must complete an Incident Report (for Accidental Injury or Work-Related Illness upon notification of potential frostbite or hypothermia. See 2.24.
Employee Actions
An employee experiencing any of the initial symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia must immediately move to a warm location and notify her or his supervisor.

If the symptoms worsen or additional symptoms appear, the employee should immediately seek medical attention.
ASSISTANCE
Contact Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) for assistance and information about working in cold environments; telephone 335-3041.