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The goal of this online course is to help you understand the risks of working in extreme cold situations. We will review how the body regulates temperatures, define cold stress, identify cold stress-related injuries and illnesses, describe first aid measures to treat cold stress-related injuries and illnesses, and review best practices to prevent these hazards.
What are the governing regulations? OSHA does not have a specific standard for working in cold environments. However, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act states that employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. This includes cold temperature-related hazards.
Who must take this training? Anyone who works in a cold environment, whether outdoors or indoors, may be at risk for cold stress. Just like with heat stress, extreme temperatures are hard on the body, and these risks can be increased depending on the type of work being done, the duration of the work, and external factors. If the body cannot maintain a normal temperature, cold stress-related illnesses can occur and may even result in permanent tissue damage or death.
Case Study: In 2013, an employee was working as a freezer order selector at a food warehouse when he experienced frostbite. The temperature inside the warehouse was around -10°F. During his work shift, he suffered frostbite to his ring and middle fingers of both hands. He was admitted to a hospital where they attempted to save his fingers, but all four fingers had to be amputated to the first knuckle.
Key Takeaway: Employees should wear appropriate clothing when working in cold environments. This includes wearing gloves to protect the hands and fingers. In addition, employees should report any discomfort or concerns about their health and safety.
OSHA has not specified any time frame for required retraining or recertification for Cold Stress, Illness & Injury Safety training. Since there is no OSHA standard dealing with this specific hazard the OSH Act general duty clause, section 5(a)(1), 29 U.S.C. 654(b)(1) defines the standard which provides that:
(a) Each employer -
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.
A recognized hazard is a danger recognized by the employer's industry or industry in general, by the employer, or by common sense. The general duty clause does not apply if there is an OSHA standard dealing with the hazard, unless the employer knows that the standard does not adequately address the hazard.