A brutal winter season is upon us; complete with arctic blasts, bomb cyclones, and below freezing temperatures. Winter sports enthusiasts are jumping for joy but your industrial athletes working in the concrete industry dread being outdoors without the proper gear protecting them from the elements. Everyday construction and concrete work is a hazardous occupation, even more so when one is not outfitted with appropriate safety gear. Add in extreme weather conditions and risk levels rise considerably, along with reduced productivity.
OSHA understands that cold stress is a very real risk to concrete laborers working in extreme cold temperatures. Enough so, that they published a quick card complete with an abundance of helpful information to educate employers on these risks.
MCR Safety is committed to helping concrete manufacturers understand how to choose the right gear to keep employees safe, along with keeping them warm and productive in extreme cold temperatures.
Types of Cold Stress To Which Laborers Can Be Subjected
The consequences of cold stress can be severe and can even lead to amputation. This is why OSHA has released guidelines on protecting workers from cold stress and why employers should take these hazards very seriously. A few types of cold stress are:
When a normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to an internal temperature of 95°F or less.
When body tissues freeze; commonly occurs in the extremities (hands and feet). Temperatures do not need to be below freezing for frostbite to take place.
When feet are exposed to constant cold and wet environments in temperatures as high as 60°F.
In addition to choosing the proper insulated gear for concrete laborers, OSHA has a long list of recommendations for employers to safeguard workers from cold stress. This list includes:
- Symptoms of cold stress
- Preventing cold stress
- How to assist others who may be experiencing signs
- Keep a close eye on laborers during extreme weather conditions
- Let workers work in pairs
- Provide warm beverages and take frequent short breaks in warm, dry areas
Basic Tips for Choosing Cold Weather Safety Gear
There are very specific properties to look for in each particular garment when choosing cold weather gear, but first, we thought we’d share a few basic extreme weather dressing tips for laborers.
- Most experts suggest dressing in multiple layers of light fabrics.
- Fabrics made with natural fibers are best, such as wool, fleece, or anything breathable.
- Insulated vests and hoodies allow for versatility in controlling temperatures and trapping body heat (the S2CL3LZ shown to the right is a popular hoodie due to its stylish design).
- Coveralls are best for long-term exposure to the cold, like the BP5B, which is an Extreme Climate Insulated Bib Overall.
- Wind resistant, synthetic fabrics should be worn on outer layers.
Choosing the Right Gloves
Because the extremities are at the highest risk for frostbite, choosing the right insulated glove is a game changer for concrete laborers working in the cold. Things to look for in a solid glove are durability, layers built in to the glove, and reliable water resistance. A lack of durability or susceptibility to puncture allows heat to escape and breaks the seal of insulation, rendering the glove useless. Any high quality glove for cold weather should be produced with multiple layers of textiles, typically a combination of synthetic and natural fibers. Most importantly, water resistance is key to fostering a safe environment for the hands to stay warm and dry in the cold.
A couple of concrete industry favorites are the Ninja Ice gloves, which are lined for warmth and HPT coated to repel water, along with the HiVis VBBCL3L insulated bomber jacket. These are both shown in the image directly below. A concrete laborer is sure to stay safe and dry wearing these during cold winter months.
Choosing the Right Body Gear
Choosing the right body gear for colder conditions can depend on the phase of the concrete production process and agility necessary for a particular job. There are, however, basic things to look for when choosing gear to provide employees with the best protection. Certain fabrics like cotton should be avoided as they don’t repel moisture very well. The inner layer of a garment should be made with a fabric that repels moisture well, while the outer layers should be wind resistant and easily detachable. Educating employees on appropriately layering fabrics for reducing sweat is critical to helping them control body temperature.
Guidance for Choosing the Right Cold Weather Gear
At MCR Safety, we have designed a very thorough 360 degree protection program built to help employers perform a complete assessment and review of their current safety gear performance. This service provides an emphasis on direct and indirect cost savings, productivity, and risk reduction, for now and for the future.
We take great pride in objectively providing employers with detailed feedback and specifications on each insulated safety gear chosen to protect their employees.
Quality Gear Is Vital to Protecting Your Employees From Extreme Weather Conditions
We cannot stress enough how important it is to avoid cutting corners when choosing quality insulated gear to protect laborers from extreme temperatures. We highly recommend that any employer looking for concrete production safety gear should register for The MCR Safety 360° Protection Program and schedule a thorough assessment of their safety gear needs.
Be sure to also check out MCR Safety’s full range of insulated safety gear options.
For more details on MCR Safety’s cold weather gear for concrete production you can request a catalog, give us a call at 800-955-6887, or join us at Booth S12445 at the World of Concrete Convention January 23–26 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.