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A Guide To Winter Ergonomics; Stay warm and Safe

ergonomic clothing for winter

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Depending on where you live, the first few snowflakes can fall in early November or December. During the winter season, it can get colder and icy. Injuries arise during the winter months for a variety of reasons, including slippery conditions, shovelling, winter sports, and believe it or not, decorating. Read our blog for winter ergonomics tips and keep you injury-free this winter.

Winter injuries

Most winter injuries that occur are falls from ladders, oven burns, broken bones from slipping on ice or snow, muscle strains from shovelling, ruptured discs from heavy lifting and hypothermia. The body does an excellent job of maintaining a constant temperature, but extended exposure to cold can overwhelm your body. If you must stay outside for a long er period during cold weather, try to wear at least 3 to 4 layers and always stay dry where possible. Because we have a lot of Christmas dinners, office parties and friends gatherings, we often drink a glass of wine or another alcoholic drink. Note that Alcohol use can make you more susceptible to hypothermia. If you walk home late at night, try to avoid long walks or walks in snowy weather.

Snowing and safety

In some parts of the United States or northern Europe, the average snowfall is approaching 3 meters. That's a lot of snow to shovel and some people suffer from muscle fatigue or lower back pain. So, how to shovel correctly? Try to shovel within 24 hours after the snow has stopped snowing to clear your walkways. In this way, it's not icy and easier to remove. Keep your back straight while raking leaves, digging holes, or shovelling to maintain the natural curve of your spine.

If it's slippery outside, take the time to wear boots with a good grip on the bottom and change your shoes when you arrive at your destination. Being mindful of how you walk in winter can help reduce the chances of slipping on ice or a snowy road. Take short, slow strides with slightly bent knees, almost like waddling like a penguin. Try to keep your balance with your arms at your sides. Leaving your hands in your pockets will make it harder to keep your balance. Use handrails or anything you can grab whenever possible.

If you fall and can't get up, think you have a broken bone, or are in severe pain, you probably need emergency care and don't be afraid to call. Nausea and vomiting, confusion or disorientation after the injury, increased sleepiness, seizures or blood-thinning medications, always try to see a doctor.

Winter ergonomics tips:

  • Wear proper footwear made for icy and snowy conditions.
  • Walk slowly and avoid long steps.
  • Slow things down — try not to rush or run outdoors.
  • Keep de-icer or sand on hand for when things get slippery around your house.
  • In case of injury, always have your cell phone with you.

Cold Temperature

Although winter ergonomics, whether it's air conditioning in the summer or poor heating in the winter, an office that is too cold can make it difficult to concentrate. Sitting in a cold office can boost your concentration, but it wouldn't be comfortable. On the other hand, since the standard focuses on men's body heat production, they are more likely to feel cold than their male colleagues. Always bring a jacket, scarf or sweater to the office and try to move often or do some desk stretches.

How can Fit for Work help?

To learn more about setting up or managing an ergonomics programme that supports staff working from home or in the office or support with staying legally compliant, you can reach out to Fit for Work. For more information on our Ergonomics Self-Assessment and Education Tool, contact us.

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