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Winter Safety – Dress for the Temperature

Summer is over and Winter is here! Up north in Edmonton, unlike those teams in beautiful Arizona or Houston, that means the weather will begin to slowly move its way below freezing. People often don’t think about their clothing and safety being related, but it can be an extremely important factor in your personal safety during extreme conditions. Especially when you’re working outside, the weather can dip below -30c during the Alberta winter. So here are a few tips about dressing for the Alberta elements!

Most people, when they think of cold weather, think simply of heavy clothing, but that may not be the solution you’re looking for. Some heavy clothing can be too cumbersome to move, limiting your range of motion and forcing you to take shortcuts, and we all know what happens when you take shortcuts: accidents happen. Others may not want to be bogged down by heavy clothing, so they end up dressing too lightly, and their limbs and extremities become cold, and they start rushing. What happens when they rush? They become careless and accidents happen.

There are four main aspects to correctly dressing warm: you start with a base layer, then a middle layer, then an outer layer, and then your extremities.

Your base layer or inner layer will be primarily concerned with ridding yourself of any moisture or sweat that develops during your workday. The materials of your inner base layer should be made up of either polypropylene, wool, blends or 100% cotton.

Your middle layer will act as an insulator and is generally something heavier, like a fleece or sweatshirt. The middle layer, if chosen correctly, will be able to regulate the airflow between your three layers. A very popular choice for the middle layer is a hoodie, but as a safety precaution, we at JV Driver have chosen to not wear hoodies on all our sites. We believe the decreased peripheral vision is a safety hazard.

Your outer layer should be a material that is wind, rain, and snow resistant. Specifically, all our employees are required to wear flame retardant clothing as their outer layer. Typically, they choose the brand Carhartt or a 100% cotton material.

When you have these three layers working together, keeping your core warm shouldn’t be a problem!

The final aspect to consider, however, is your extremities, which include your hands, fingers, head, neck, toes, and ears. These areas of your body lose heat easily and most often, this is where people fail to dress correctly. Let’s go over a few aspects!

Picking the right gloves can almost be considered an art form. Over the years, a lot of improvements have been made to the fabrics, textures, shape, and lining of gloves. You’ll want gloves that are water proof, allow for dexterity and fine finger movements, with good insulation. Consider getting them a little bit over-sized and buying a snug liner for underneath your gloves. Last, match your gloves to the particular job that you are going to be carrying out.  As you can see, there are a vast amount of factors to consider when picking out a pair of gloves.

For protecting your feet, you probably already have a pair of boots, but this is where they’re really going to get tested. The single most important thing about your shoe is that they are waterproof. Once water seeps into your foot, no amount of layers are going to keep your feet warm. The ideal sock will be insulated or thermal, but allow for breathability so that moisture doesn’t build up while you sweat. Remember, boots don’t last forever. We work in construction and our boots are meant to keep us safe. Excessive wear and tear means you need new boots. If the steel-toe is showing, your boots are no longer providing you with the right amount of protection.

For protecting your head, neck, or ears, consider using a fleece liner that goes under your hard hat. The hard hat will act as a wind breaker, and the fleece will be a perfectly suitable insulator. Plus, as an added bonus, they’re just plain cozy.

And remember: being warm and comfortable leads to a happier work day, keeps your mind clear and on task, keeps you from rushing, and helps you get the job done safely and right the first time!

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