Toolbox Talk: Cold Weather

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CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training

Summary Statement

The CPWR Toolbox Talk on Cold Weather addresses the risks associated with working in extreme cold. The resource includes a ‘real-life’ case example, steps to prevent a related injury or illness, and questions for discussion. It includes an image (page 2) that illustrates the hazard, which can be posted in a central location as a reminder of steps to work safely.   Click on the following links to access the English version and the Spanish version. (English) (Español).

CPWR Toolbox Talk logoExtended exposure to freezing or cold temperatures can result in health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue, and confused behavior.


Here is an Example

Ron works construction at a local site during the winter months. He was recently diagnosed as diabetic. One day he had left his work gloves at home, although he was wearing his winter boots. He also forgot to take his diabetes medication. Throughout the day he kept falling in the snow, and pretty soon his clothes were soaking wet. Shaking, wearing wet clothes, with no protection for his hands, he was forced to go home early.

  1. What clothing should Ron have worn because he was working outside?
  2. What should you do when working in cold weather in order to stay warm?

Preventing Injuries Caused by Cold Weather

  • Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves, in addition to underwear that will keep water away from the skin.
  • Use the buddy system; work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) and alcohol.
  • Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition, or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease.

What Are We Going to Do Today?

What will we do here at the worksite today to prevent being injured in cold weather?







OSHA does not have a cold weather standard

Graphic of two workers in cold weather wearing gloves, hats and drinking warm beverages.

  • Wear a hat and gloves.
  • Use the buddy system.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages.