NIOSH provides tips on protecting workers in ‘moderately cold conditions’

Employees can spend eight hours in rooms at 40 degrees

Posted November 17, 2015

“Moderately cold” work conditions pose health and safety risks for employees, and employers should take steps to improve the work environment, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The National Safety Council announced that researchers recently presented a case study examining working conditions of airline food preparation employees at the American Public Health Association’s annual conference on November 4.

Airline food preparation employees and workers in industries such as transportation, cold storage, and supermarkets can spend the majority of their day, up to eight hours, in rooms at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Forty degrees is a food safety standard for refrigerated rooms.

The case study stemmed from a 2014 report by NIOSH called Evaluation of Ergonomic Risk Factors, Thermal Exposures, and Job Stress at an Airline Catering Facility. The agency says cold environments can increase the risk of injury, or aggravate an existing injury. NIOSH made recommendations in the report for employers to help protect employees which includes:

  • Training employees on the health effects of exposure to hot and cold temperatures and ways to be more comfortable such as changing out wet clothes.
  • Providing glove alternatives for employees inside cold rooms.
  • Rotating employees to different job tasks between warmer and colder work environments.
  • Providing warm water or dry air heaters outside of cold rooms for workers to warm their hands.


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