Human Resources Policies
Cold Stress
Policy on Climate-Related Hazards - (ii) Cold Stress

Category: Health and Safety
Sub-Category: General

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Policy Statement

This policy and its associated guidelines are intended to protect workers from potential adverse effects of overexposure to cold.

Application

It applies to all City of Toronto employees who work in low temperature, wind and/or moisture for significant time periods.

Definitions

Frostbite:

A cold induced condition caused by the formation of ice crystals in exposed body parts. It occurs when extremities such as the hands, feet, ears, and noseare exposed to cold for an extended period of time.

Superficial frostbite is characterized by grey or yellowish patches on the affected areas. Deep frostbite is characterized by waxy and pale skin, the affected parts feel cold, hard and solid which may turn blue or purple upon thawing.

Hypothermia:

A cold induced condition which results from over cooling of the body due to excessive loss of body heat.


Responsibilities

Divisions shall:

  • identify jobs with a potential risk of cold stress
  • develop and maintain written job-specific safe work procedures (based on the City of Toronto Guidelines for the Prevention of Cold-Stress Related Injuries) which address this hazard
  • inform workers and their supervisors where their work involves potential risk of cold stress
  • develop a process to ensure supervisors and workers are advised of:
    • factors which can predispose them to cold stress
    • the warning signs and symptoms of cold stress conditions (frostbite and hypothermia
    • the measures to be taken to protect against this hazard (e.g. wearing appropriate clothing
    • the job-specific safe work procedures
  • post information on cold stress in the workplaces of employees potentially exposed to this hazard
  • if uniforms or clothing are being provided by the divisions, ensure that clothing specifications reduce the risk of cold stress (while providing appropriate protection from other hazards, where necessary)

Those with supervisory responsibilities shall:

  • be familiar with all jobs under their supervision which have been identified to have potential risk of cold stress and their associated safe work procedures
  • ensure training/information sessions are provided to employees whose work places them at risk of cold stress
  • monitor environmental conditions (i.e. temperature and wind velocity and/or wind chill), as appropriate, on cold days and on days where brisk wind and cold air temperature combine to reach levels deemed as hazardous as outlined in the attached guidelines (Guidelines for the Prevention of Cold-Stress Related Injuries):

    • implement safe work procedures established to prevent cold-stress related injuries
    • advise workers to:

      • wear multiple layers of light, loose fitting clothing
      • pay special attention to protecting feet, hands, face & head
      • report to their supervisor cold stress-related symptoms in themselves or their co-workers
      • adhere to the recommended work-warm-up schedule, established to prevent frostbite or hypothermia
    • reinforce personal protection strategies (as per the Guidelines for the Prevention of Cold-Stress Related Injuries) to workers verbally, on a continual basis

Workers shall:

  • be familiar with cold stress hazards, predisposing factors and preventative measures
  • follow safe work procedures established to prevent cold-stress related injuries
  • report to their supervisor cold stress-related symptoms in themselves or their co-workers
  • follow recommended schedule of rest breaks, as advised by supervisors, to prevent frostbite or hypothermia

Occupational health and safety staff, in conjunction with supervisory staff, shall:

  • provide assistance in the development of safe work procedures
  • provide assistance in the provision of information sessions
  • prepare information related to cold stress
  • address cold stress concerns of employees

Joint Health and Safety Committees are responsible for:

  • making recommendations during the development of or on the improvement of existing safe work procedures, as needed


Authority

Occupational Health and Safety Act (R.S.O. 1990, c.0.1)

Approved by

  • Executive Management Team (EMT) February 23, 2001
    Occupational Health & Safety Co-ordinating Committee (OHSCC) November 28, 2000
  • OHSCC Reviewed: November 26, 2008 and April 26, 2016

Date Approved

February 23, 2001

Reviewed by OHSCC

April 26, 2016

Related Information


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