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​December 2017   Subscribe

Chilled to the bone:​​

What you should know about cold stress​

When they’re unprepared and unprotected, humans are easy targets for winter weather. Hypothermia, frostbite, and a variety of other injuries related to cold temperatures are all part of the mix.

Prolonged low-core body temperature affects the brain, making it difficult to think clearly or move properly. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous because victims are less likely to know what’s happening to them. ​

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Administrator's Message

Reflecting on the close of 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we here at Oregon OSHA are able to look back at a reasonably busy year. We have, of course, continued our bread-and-butter activities – enforcement visits, on-site consultation visits, and outreach efforts of various sorts. But we’ve also been tackling several additional issues.​

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Did you know?

Hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot are the most common types of cold stress. When the body can no longer maintain core temperature, it shivers to compensate for the lost heat.

Cold temperatures, wind, dampness, and cold water are the key factors that increase the risk of cold stress. Wind chill refers to the rate of heat loss resulting from the combined effect of low air temperature and wind.

Planning cold weather work and dressing appropriately are the most important ways to prevent cold stress.

Learn about hypothermia, frostbite, and wind chill from Oregon OSHA’s cold stress card, in English and Spanish

Learn about Oregon OSHA rules related to cold stress by visiting Division 2, Subdivision J, General Environmental Controls.

Borrow DVDs about cold stress from Oregon OSHA’s Resource Center.


The challenge, the desired result, is for safety to become a personal value to us. Not because we must be compliant, but because it is important, relevant, and non-negotiable to us. Mandated or not, we choose to be safe.”

~ Al Arguedas, owner of AJA Associates LLC, a safety leadership and management consulting firm​


  • Wind chill is the term used to describe the rate of heat loss from the human body, resulting from the combined effect of low air temperature and wind speed.
  • The wind chill temperature is a single value that takes both air temperature and wind speed into account. For example, when the air temperature is 40 degrees F, and the wind speed is 35 mph, the wind chill temperature is 28 degrees F. This measurement is the actual effect of the environmental cold on exposed skin.
  • Shivering reaches a maximum when the core temperature falls to 95 degrees F. Without another heat source to warm the body, hypothermia is possible.
  • Severe hypothermia is likely when the core temperature drops below 86 degrees F.
  • Frostbite occurs when layers of skin tissue freeze; trench foot is possible when feet are immersed in cold water for long periods of time – it’s similar to frostbite but generally less severe.

Deep winter: Oregon’s classic winter storms

Winter storms in Oregon are most likely from December through February. Generally, western Oregon is spared the cold temperatures and snow that are common east of the Cascades, but not always.​ Under the right conditions, a winter storm can leave the entire state under a blanket of snow and ice. Here are 12 record-breaking events since 1900.

Getting traction in winter

If you do much winter driving in Oregon, you have probably seen the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) SNOW ZONE signs that tell you the current requirements for chains or traction tires. Do you know what they mean?​

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Don't Miss Out

Save the dates for these two conferences!

Construction Safety Summit in Bend
January 29 & 30, 2018

Cascade Occupational Safety & Health Conference in Eugene
March 5 & 6, 2018

Upcoming education workshops in Salem and Milwaukie.

Get details

Safety Notes

Event: Fall
Industry: Landscaping Services
Worker: Tree trimmer

A tree trimmer fell 35 feet from a tree while attempting a timed tree-rescue exercise.

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Going the distance

Employer: Morrow Equipment Company

Corporate safety director​: Brian Silbernagel

Workforce: In business since 1968, Morrow employs about 300 people in North America

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Ask Technical

I have to work outside two or three days each week during the winter. Does my employer have to pay for my winter clothing?​

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