The thermometer outside during the winter.

The below-freezing temperatures and dangerous wintry conditions set to define the looming months should have workers doing all they can to stay warm and safe when forced to do outdoor tasks.

As outlined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), spending an extended time outdoors in extremely cold conditions can prove fatal, even when wearing the heaviest of layers and face protectors. Red flags for excessive cold exposure included slurred speech, clumsy movements, confused behavior, fatigue and uncontrolled shivering — all symptoms that can lead to serious conditions such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia if emergency help isn’t called for in time.

To help outside workers better recognize these warning signs and know when/how to act, OSHA released their Cold Stress Card. Available in English and Spanish, workers can reference this laminated, foldable card on-the-job to educate themselves and those around them to prevent avoidable incidents. 

Among the tips detailed on the card to keep workers safe include:

— Understand signs and symptoms cold-induced illness and injury and the steps to help workers

— Scheduling outside work for the warmest hours of the day

— Utilize a buddy system to help recognize warning signs for coworkers

— Eating high-calorie warm foods such as pasta.

— Avoid caffeinated drinks such as soda or coffee as well as alcohol in favor of sweet, warm beverages such as sport drinks or sugar water

— Schedule short but frequent indoor breaks throughout the day. This will also help with preventing exhaustion, as energy is required to keep muscles warm and functioning properly 

— Dress accordingly for both cold and wet conditions, while also selecting options that can be easily adjusted as the weather shifts from hour to hour. 

— Be mindful of workers on medication or with conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as they are more prone to cold-induced conditions and complications.

Free English or Spanish copies of the Cold Stress Card are available at or 1(800) 321-OSHA. Earlier this year, OSHA updated its guidelines for safety and health programs for the first time in decades while also offering a free “On-Site Consulting Program.” Read more on the service here.