Cold Weather Work Environments

  • Author | Heather Sturtz
  • 11/2/2023 6:25 am

Everyone knows how uncomfortable cold weather can be — and if you must work in it, it can be even worse. 


Many of Public Entity Partners’ members have employees who cannot avoid working in cold conditions. Some of these include construction, police, fire, emergency responders, trucking, road repair, utility repair and many more. 


The biggest health risk of being overexposed to cold is getting hypothermia — or a drop in the body’s temperature below 95 degrees. This usually occurs in temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees, but it can also happen in temperatures as high as 65 degrees. Other risks include frostbite, dehydration, chilblains, and indirect reactions due to pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis or asthma. 


Employers need to ensure their employees take appropriate precautions to avoid workplace injuries during cold conditions. Cold-weather worker protection includes:

  • Using insulated tools so skin does not come into contact with cold metals;
  • Wearing hats, hoods and masks to help retain body heat since 40% of heat loss occurs through the head;
  • Dressing in layers and making sure the outer layer is wind- and water-resistant;
  • Protecting hands by wearing gloves (workers who need more hand flexibility can consider fingerless gloves when necessary);
  • Wearing waterproof insulated boots over wool socks;
  • Having a change of clothing on hand in case clothing gets wet while working or PPE becomes damaged. 

Working in cold conditions presents a variety of hazards, including wind and dampness, that require numerous protection measures. If you don’t have a plan for cold stress prevention, now is the time to put one together. EHS Hero™ has a template to assist you in creating this plan.

To obtain access to the EHS Hero safety plan resources, please contact Heather Sturtz at