Objective: Identify general tips to prevent the harmful effects of cold weather.
Landscaping and horticulture work often occurs in cold environments. For this module:
Working in a cold environment, outdoors or indoors, can be risky. Cold environments can include low temperatures, high winds, dampness, and cold water. Workers need to pay extra attention to working in cold environments to avoid cold-related injuries.
Body Temperature in Cold Environments
Working in cold weather can cause cold-related injuries. Keeping normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) in a cold environment is very important. Workers can lose body heat in different ways:
- Convection—working in brisk winds
- Conduction—using cold hand tools or wearing wet clothing
- Radiation—working in shady or cloudy, overcast environments
The illustration from OSHA’s Cold Stress Equation (see below) shows the degree of danger based on the temperature and wind speed.
General Tips to Prevent Harmful Effects of Cold
- Wear adequate, dry clothing to decrease the effects of cold on the body.
- Do not take drugs like nicotine or caffeine that inhibit the body’s reaction to the cold.
- Be aware of work environments that could lead to potential cold-induced injuries.
- Learn the signs of cold-induced injuries and what to do to help workers.
- Wear proper clothing for cold conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves. Also, wear polypropylene underwear to keep water away from the skin.
- Take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters to warm up the body.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system—work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
- Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine such as coffee, tea, or sodas.
- Drink warm, sweet beverages such as sugar water or sports-type drinks.
- Eat high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
Review These Important Points
- Workers can lose body heat through convection, conduction, radiation, and sweating.
- Do not use nicotine, caffeine, or any medication that inhibits the body’s reaction to the cold or impairs judgment.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
About These Modules
The author team for the training modules in the landscape and horticultural tailgate training series includes Dee Jepsen, Program Director, Agricultural Safety and Health, Ohio State University Extension; Michael Wonacott, Research Specialist, Vocational Education; Peter Ling, Greenhouse Specialist; and Thomas Bean, Agricultural Safety Specialist. Modules were developed with funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Grant Number 46E3-HT09.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Labor.
Quiz: Protecting Against Cold
True or False?
1. Working in –30 degrees Fahrenheit (–34.4 degrees Celsius) is not dangerous. T F
2. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). T F
3. Do not layer clothing. T F
4. Drinking alcohol helps prevent the harmful effects of cold. T F
5. Take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow the body to warm up. T F