The challenges raised in winter’s deep freeze can be just as dangerous and harmful to productivity, however, so businesses must plan and make sure equipment such as gloves and hand warmers are available to workers who need them.
In many scenarios in maintenance, repair and operations, gloves are vital. Although this can be true in any weather, the extreme cold adds another layer of need to the equation.
Gloves come in a wide variety of designs for the many distinctive uses they can be needed for. These range from disposable plastic gloves that offer little protection against temperatures up to gloves that protect against cuts, flame and more.
A number of these include properties that help protect against the cold, so it’s important to review options carefully to select the right glove for the job. Some options include:
- HeatLoc gloves, which have multiple inner layers to provide superior insulating performance, along with a comfortable fit and excellent durability.
- Insulated high visibility gloves, which combine strong insulation with and orange back and reflective strip to increase visibility.
- Kool Flex thermal gloves, which offer a useful combination of an insulated liner and superior grip.
- Heavyweight knit gloves, which have a comfortable fit and strong durability
Making the right conditions and equipment available is highly important to prevent cold-weather hazards like hypothermia and frostbite. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers these tips for keeping workers safe during cold weather or in other cold work environments:
- Provide workers with the proper tools and equipment to do their jobs.
- Develop work plans that identify potential hazards and the safety measures that will be used to protect workers.
- Schedule maintenance and repair jobs for warmer months.
- Schedule jobs that expose workers to the cold weather in the warmer part of the day.
- Avoid exposure to extremely cold temperatures when possible.
- Limit the amount of time spent outdoors on extremely cold days.
- Use relief workers to assign extra workers for long, demanding jobs.
- Provide warm areas for use during break periods.
- Provide warm liquids (no alcohol) to workers.
- Monitor workers who are at risk of cold stress.
- Monitor the weather conditions during a winter storm, have a reliable means of communicating with workers and be able to stop work or evacuate when necessary.
- Acclimatize new workers and those returning after time away from work by gradually increasing their workload, and allowing more frequent breaks in warm areas, as they build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment.
- Have a means of communicating with workers, especially in remote areas.
Many studies bear out the idea that temperature is important to worker productivity in an office, most notably one at Cornell University that found increasing the office temperature from 68 to 77 degrees reduced typing errors by 44 percent and boosted typing output 150 percent. It makes sense that a similar dynamic exists in the shop and other industrial and warehouse environments.
Failure to maintain a comfortable working environment can prompt workers to bring in their own space heaters or block heating or air conditioning systems, which can damage equipment or cause fires.
So, for both safety and productivity reasons, it’s in a business’ best interest to keep workers comfortable in the cold. If you need help finding the right gloves or other equipment for your shop,