MSHA Issues Cold Stress Safety Alert

Published January 31, 2018

​MSHA describes best practices for preventing injuries related to cold stress in a new safety alert published earlier this month. Miners and other workers exposed to cold environments with low temperatures, high wind speed, humidity, or contact with cold water or surfaces are particularly susceptible to cold stress. Examples of serious illnesses and injuries that can occur due to cold stress include hypothermia, frostbite, and “trench foot,” a foot injury that can result from prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions.

MSHA urges miners to monitor their physical condition and that of their co-workers. The agency reminds miners to wear several layers of clothing for insulation and to protect the ears, face, and feet in extremely cold or wet weather. Wearing waterproof, insulated boots and clothing and using radiant heaters in break areas can also help prevent cold stress. Employers should include chemical hot packs in first-aid kits for workers who will be out in the cold.

Further information is available in MSHA’s safety alert.

Related: In December, MSHA launched its annual “Winter Alert” campaign, which is intended to raise awareness about the increased hazards that colder weather creates at both surface and underground coal mines. The campaign runs through March.