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The Health and Safety Risks of Working in Extreme Cold

March 7, 2019 

Introduction by: Chloe Rowlands

Working outdoors in extreme cold weather conditions can be extremely dangerous if you don’t take the necessary preventative steps to ensure you are protected from developing cold stress. Workers in the following industries are obviously at a higher risk of developing cold-related injuries and illnesses due to the nature of their jobs:

  • Agriculture
  • Security
  • Construction
  • Maritime
  • Commercial Fishing

Other individual factors to consider that increase your risk of developing cold stress include:

  • Not being physically fit
  • Working without personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Working in wet or damp environments
  • Being exposed to vibration from tools
  • Having underlying health conditions
  • Not being used to extreme cold conditions

The Dangers of Cold Stress

Cold stress relates to any cold-weather inflicted illness or injury such as hypothermia, frostbite, chilblains or trench foot. Developing cold stress can have a serious, negative impact on your health and in some cases can even result in death.

In 2014, Public Health England’s Cold Weather Report showed that extreme cold weather had a direct effect on the incidence of heart attack, stroke, flu, respiratory disease, falls, injury and hypothermia. This increases the need for people to protect themselves adequately when working in extreme cold conditions, particularly those with any existing health issues. In the last 5 years in the UK alone there have also been a staggering 168,000 cold-related deaths, giving Britain the 2nd worst ‘winter death’ rate in Europe.

When outdoor temperatures drop below 5-8°C respiratory and cardiovascular health problems occur, and as it continues to drop the risk of other illness and death increases drastically. These concerning facts and figures make it crucial for anyone facing cold weather conditions to be fully aware of the potential hazards and risks they are faced with.

This infographic created by EM Training Solutions provides shocking facts about the dangers of cold stress, as well as steps to take in order to protect yourself from adverse weather conditions.


Graphic is from

How to Prevent Cold Stress