Streamline - Winter 2012 - (Page 13)

There’s a Chill in the Air! AS OLD MAN WINTER approaches and we exit the fall season, water and wastewater utilities should BY KENNY REYNOLDS, VRWA WATER CIRCUIT RIDER I be preparing their employees for working outside during cold temperatures and during weather-related hazardous conditions. Under OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) general duty clause, employers must protect employees from hazards in the workplace, including severe weather exposures (like those associated with both hot and cold temperatures). As winter approaches, it makes sense to discuss cold temperatures and their effects on your employees, particularly those responsible for tasks that would subject them to the winter elements. OSHA’s Cold Stress Card provides a reference guide and recommendations to combat and prevent many illnesses and injuries. Tips on how to protect employees include the following: • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous. • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help employees. • Train employees about cold-induced illnesses and injuries. • Encourage employees to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions. • Be sure that employees in extremely cold conditions take frequent, short breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up. • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day. • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm. • Use the buddy system: Work in pairs so that one employee can recognize danger signs. • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol. • Eat warm, high calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes. • Remember that employees increase their risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Most of these recommendations are common sense, but the employer (i.e. supervisors and employees both) must be aware of the hazards and steps to take to combat the cold. Winter temperature effects on your body are compounded by the wind. The combined effect of winter cold and wind speed is called wind chill. The dangerous effects of wind chill on our body rises as temperature drops and the wind increases. Heat is carried away faster from the skin, driving down body temperature. Exposure to freezing and cold temperature for extended periods of time may cause serious health problems such as frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water submersion, exposure can lead to death. Recognizing the early initial warning symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia can prevent further injury or even death. Frostbite As winter approaches, it makes sense to discuss cold temperatures and their effects on your employees, particularly those responsible for tasks that would subject them to the winter elements. Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the fluids around the cells of body tissue. Areas of the body most vulnerable to frostbite are the nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes. Initial symptoms of frostbite usually include: • An uncomfortable sensation of coldness and pain • Numbness Additional symptoms include: • Tingling, stinging, aching or cramping pains, which may be felt at first, but then subside • Skin changing color to white or grayish-yellow, progressing to reddish-violet, and finally turning black • Affected area is cold and numb • Blisters Hypothermia Hypothermia is the lowering of the body’s core temperature to abnormal levels. The initial symptoms of hypothermia usually include: • Uncontrollable shivering 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Winter 2012

From the President
From the Executive Director
Groundwater in the Karst Landscape
There’s a Chill in the Air!
Chloramines in Question
Preventative (Planned) Maintenance II
What About Water Rates?
How to Get a Great Rate Analyst
Membership Directory
Wastewater Math
Throwing My Loop
eLearning Benefits
Membership Application
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefi ts Are?
VRWA Mailbag
Welcoming New Members
Training Calendar
Board Of Directors
VRWA Committees
Index To Advertisers/

Streamline - Winter 2012