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ESIS Announces Top Ten Precautions To Take When Exposed to Cold Weather: What Every Construction and Outdoor Worker Should Know
Dec 12, 2006

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can result in injuries as serious as frostbite and hypothermia. ESIS, Inc., (ESIS®) a risk management services company of ACE USA, recently released a top ten list of precautions construction and other outdoor workers should take when exposed to cold weather.

Cold weather takes away body heat. Too much heat loss can cause the inner body temperature to fall to dangerously low levels causing hypothermia and even death, said Allen Abrahamsen, Assistant Vice President, Construction Safety Services for ESIS® Risk Control Services.

About 700 deaths a year are attributed to hypothermia alone, which results when the bodys internal temperature drops below 95° Fahrenheit. In addition:

  • Exposed body parts may freeze in extreme cold weather (e.g. frostbite).
  • Cold weather can aggravate existing medical conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Cold weather affects dexterity, mental skills, and coordination.
  • Prolonged exposure to even moderately cold weather can cause injuries.
  • Working in cold weather increases the risk of musculoskeletal injuries such as back strain.


Cold Temperature Exposures, Injuries, and Controls on the Jobsite

1. Wearing the proper clothes may be the most significant precaution to reducing cold stress. Wearing appropriate clothes for cold weather involves using three layers of clothing. Also use layering to protect the head, hands, and feet.

2. Drink plenty of fluids, preferably warm, sweet beverages. Thirst is suppressed in a cold environment and dehydration may occur when fluid intake is reduced.

3. Increase caloric intake when working in cold environments. Workers in cold environments who wear heavy, protective clothing expend more heat and so require 10-15 percent more calories.

4. A Work Warm-Up Schedule should be used to provide periodic times for warm-up breaks. Additional breaks should be provided as the wind velocity increases and/or the temperature drops.

5. Avoid taking certain drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and medication that inhibit the body's response to cold or impairs judgment.

6. Avoid the cold if you are becoming exhausted or fatigued. Energy is needed to keep muscles warm.

7. Shield work areas from drafty or windy conditions. Provide a heated shelter for workers with prolonged exposure to equivalent wind-chill temperatures of 20° Fahrenheit or less.

8. Select the warmest hours of the day when braving the cold. Minimize activities that reduce circulation.

9. Educate employees on symptoms of cold-related stresses: heavy shivering, uncomfortable coldness, severe fatigue, drowsiness, and/or euphoria.

10. Use the buddy system. Always work in pairs when working in extreme weather conditions so partners can monitor one another and obtain help quickly in an emergency.

According to Mr. Abrahamsen, the impact of cold weather on the health of employees, as well as quality and productivity is often underestimated. "Construction is about producing a quality product on time and on budget," said Mr. Abrahamsen, "Since cold weather generally has an indirect impact on these measures, it's not immediately identifiable as a cause of decreased safety, quality, and productivity."

Injuries due to cold stress can develop slowly and unobtrusively. The symptoms may go undetected until a workers health or life is in danger. These tips can help employers and employees to protect themselves against cold stress exposure and injury on the jobsite.

ESIS Risk Control Services is widely respected within the construction industry for its emphasis on proactive measures, strong focus on client education, and solid expertise in lessening the potential for risk in construction operations. Their hands on experience of more than 80 years of construction-related loss control activities enable the engineer to assist in developing solutions that can be effective in the unique environment of the dynamic construction site.

Organized in 1953, ESIS, Inc. (ESIS) provides sophisticated risk management services designed to help reduce our clients total cost of loss. ESIS takes a holistic approach that blends people, process and technology to offer programs that are customized to meet each clients needs. ESIS is part of ACE USA, the U.S.-based retail operating division of the ACE Group of Companies, headed by ACE Limited (NYSE:ACE). ACE USA is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company and A+ (Strong) by Standard & Poors. ACE USA, through its underwriting companies, provides insurance products and services throughout the U.S. Additional information about ACE USA and its products and services can be found at Additional information about ESIS, Inc. and its products and services can be found at The ACE Group of Companies provides insurance and reinsurance for a diverse group of clients around the world.



Media Contact:
ACE INA Communications
Carla Ferrara, 215-640-4744