OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As frigid temperatures take over the state, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is calling on employers to protect workers.

The department says employers need to take special precautions to protect workers from the dangers of cold stress.

Cold temperatures and increased wind speed cause heat to leave the body more quickly, putting workers at risk of cold stress.

The common types of cold stress are:

  • Hypothermia
    • Normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to 95°F or less.
    • Mild Symptoms: alert but shivering.
    • Moderate to Severe Symptoms: shivering stops; confusion; slurred speech; heart rate/breathing slow; loss of consciousness; death.
  • Frostbite
    • Body tissues freeze, e.g., hands and feet. Can occur at temperatures above freezing, due to wind chill. May result in amputation.
    • Symptoms: numbness, reddened skin develops gray/white patches, feels firm/hard, and may blister.
  • Trench Foot (also known as Immersion Foot)
    • Non-freezing injury to the foot, caused by lengthy exposure to wet and cold environment. Can occur at air temperature as high as 60°F, if feet are constantly wet.
    • Symptoms: redness, swelling, numbness, and blisters.

Officials with OSHA say employers should train workers on the hazards of the cold weather, and adjust work practices in light of the weather conditions.

Also, employers should ensure that workers have appropriate gear and clothing. Businesses also need to maintain vehicles, snow equipment, and emergency kits.

For more safety tips, visit OSHA’s Winter Weather page.