Hypothermia is a serious condition when a person’s body temperature drops too low. While the frosty air of winter is invigorating, it can also post a serious threat to your employees’ whether they are indoors or outside. Lower body temperatures can impair vital organs. When cold affects the body, people have trouble thinking clearly, talking properly, or moving well. They may not realize what is happening and thus may not be able to take steps to warm up or ask for help. Although OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970, employers have a duty to protect workers from recognized hazards, including cold stress hazards, that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm in the workplace.
If you see any of these warning signs of hypothermia, call 911:
Cold feet or hands
Puffy or swollen face
Shivering (although people with hypothermia do not always shiver)
Slower speech or slurring words
Acting sleepy, being angry or confused