Protecting Yourself from Cold Stress by Terrence Jaimungal
As winter approaches, the cold weather brings with it risks that are invisible to the naked eye. With dropping temperatures, workers are under the threat of suffering from cold stress. Exposed to cold or freezing temperature for long periods of time,
a person runs the risk of losing enough body heat to lead to brain damage and even death.
Train Employees for the Cold & Changing Weather
Workers should be trained not only about cold-induced illness and injuries, but also to identify situations (wind, duration of outdoor activity) that may cause cold stress.
Workers should be especially trained in recognizing the signs and symptoms of cold stress or cold-induced injuries like hypothermia and frostbite.
Use the Buddy System
Cold weather is not the time to enjoy solitude while accomplishing your tasks outdoors. You don‟t want to be working one minute and thawing your fingers the next. So get a partner and work on monitoring each other for signs of cold stress. Don‟t be stubborn because most of the time, it‟s very difficult to determine danger signs when you only have yourself to rely on.
Adjust Work Schedule to the Cold or Changing Weather
Schedule work during the warmest part of the day. Break a task into shifts so you can take frequent, short breaks in warm dry shelters.
At this time of the year, the saying "less is more" surely does not hold true. Remember that it‟s better to go for several thin layers of clothing instead of wearing a few thick layers. For clothes next to the skin, choose those with synthetic fabrics to avoid absorption of sweat; an ideal choice is polypropylene. For outer layer, choose waterproof and wind-resistant fabrics.
Wear Complete Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Wear warm gloves, hats and hoods. In extreme conditions, don a warm woolen hood that covers your neck, head and ears. If you get hot while working, just open your jacket. Don‟t remove your hat and gloves. The key is to wear clothing that can be adjusted to changing conditions. Avoid wearing tight-fitting footwear as this restricts blood flow. Shoes or boots should allow you to wear either one thick or two thin pairs of socks.
Know Your Limitations
If you‟re sick or under medication, you are at greater risk of cold stress. This is especially true if you have hypertension, diabetes, or a cardiovascular disease.
Wear Eye Protection
Ice or snow plus excessive ultraviolet rays can equal eye injury. Before working outside, check first if you may be exposed to glare or, worse, blowing ice crystals. If conditions point to the affirmative, the wear right kind of eye protection.
Alcohol + Flame = Trouble by Paul Rubock
Two constants in biological safety cabinets (tissue culture hoods) are an alcohol squeeze bottle and a Bunsen burner. The burner can be eliminated if sterile, single-use, disposable inoculating and transfer devices are used.(Remember, the air inside the cabinet‟s work space is microbiologically sterile and the perceived need to flame "everything‟ is a by-product of the era when most work was conducted on the open bench. The use of flammable ethanol for disinfection inside of the BSC can create a hazardous environment.
This past month an investigator was using a glass rod to spread cells on a petri dish. The rod was being dipped in alcohol and flamed with a Bunsen burner to sterilize it between procedures. (You can probably tell where this is going.) The evening‟s work came to an abrupt halt when some flaming alcohol dripped off the rod and ignited the contents of the beaker. Then the flaming contents of the beaker were tossed into a red bag, causing it to ignite. Personnel in the laboratory put out the fire with an extinguisher. (Do you know where your laboratory‟s extinguisher is and how to use it?)
Accidents such as these can be eliminated by using disposable plastic spreaders. They are available in pre-sterilized packages and can be autoclaved for re-use. See VWR product #60828.