With record snowfalls in Pennsylvania and Western New York, along with frigid temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest, the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging all those involved in snow removal and cleanup to take precautions and focus on safety.
Those working outdoors may also be at risk of cold stress, including first responders who are on duty for long periods of time. Anyone working outside for prolonged periods may experience cold stress with mild symptoms, such as shivering while remaining alert. Moderate to severe symptoms include shivering stops, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slowness, and loss of consciousness. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related injuries may occur, such as frostbite. A full list of winter storm hazards and safeguards and preparedness is available online.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit OSHA’s website.