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Protecting yourself when working outside in the winter

For many in New York, cold temperatures are an excuse to skip work or work from home.

Unfortunately, for many this is simply not an option. Workers stuck outside during the cold need to do everything possible to protect themselves from the elements.

Staying warm means staying safe

When you get cold, not only do you risk getting sick but you risk making mistakes as well. When you’re more focused on your body temperature than the task at hand, it makes for a bad work environment.

We can’t change the weather, we can only adapt to it. That’s why prevention is so important to work in cold weather. By approaching it the right way, you can avoid serious issues.

Layer up

It’s important to be able to adapt to changing temperatures. Especially if you are working before sunrise, as the extra warmth may make a big difference. Layers give you more precise control over your body temperature.

Plus, if you sweat through a layer or get soaked from rain or snow, it’s good to have additional barriers between your body and the elements. For a good start, begin with a light polyester long-sleeve shirt and a pair of long underwear. Try to avoid cotton as a base layer, as it soaks up moisture and will sap heat from your body if you sweat.

Protect extremities

The most important parts to protect from the cold may be your extremities. When your body starts to get cold, blood is redirected from your ears, nose or toes and sent elsewhere. Keeping these parts protected from the cold and potential frostbite is crucial.

Nobody is a good worker with numb fingers. Cold feet can lead to falls or accidents. Invest in some warm socks and high-quality gloves. Look for textured fingers that let you grip things, but get a size bigger than you need so you can layer your gloves. Take care of those extremities.

Stay fed and hydrated

There’s a reason some people gain weight in the winter. When we’re cold, we get hungry faster. That’s because we burn more calories by shivering and pumping more blood. Working in the cold on an empty stomach is a great recipe for a miserable day.

If you can, eat a hearty breakfast before you start a day in the cold. Another option is to bring a thermos loaded with hot coffee. Take routine breaks to refuel and warm up when you can.

Controlling what you can

There’s no accounting for the weather, especially in New York. Wind and snow are the norm this time of year. All you can do if you’re working outside is to prepare as best you can.

If you’re hurt on a job site this winter, take steps to protect yourself. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can help you throughout the entire process of filing a claim.

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