Public Advisory: Working in Extreme Cold

February 20, 2018 

Public Advisory: Working in extreme cold 

St. John’s, NL – WorkplaceNL is reminding the public to take extra precautions when working outside in the coming days, as extreme cold temperatures with wind chills between minus 35 and minus 25 degrees Celsius are expected across the province.    

When working in extreme cold is combined with other stresses, such as physical work, loss of fluids, fatigue or some medical conditions, the body has to work harder to generate heat. If the body is unable to generate enough heat, it may lead to cold-related illness, disability and even death. Temperature, wind and wetness are the three major challenges when working in cold environments. 

Two of the most serious concerns are frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite, or freezing of the exposed extremities such as fingers, toes, nose and ear lobes, can develop within minutes, especially with wind chill. The warning signs of hypothermia, or dangerous overcooling of the body, include complaints of nausea, fatigue, dizziness, irritability or euphoria. Workers can also experience pain in their extremities (hands, feet, or ears) and severe shivering. If you notice these signs, immediately move the worker to a heated shelter and seek medical advice.    

To prevent conditions like frostbite and hypothermia when working in cold temperatures, workers should:

  • Cover exposed skin;
  • Wear layers of good quality, insulated clothing and proper footwear;
  • Eat and drink frequently – the body uses the food intake to generate heat;
  • Keep the entire body as dry as possible;
  • Take frequent breaks in a heated environment; and
  • Keep moving to generate body heat but stop before you sweat – if your inner clothing layer gets wet, you will lose heat.

Workers in certain industries are at higher risk of being exposed to the cold. These industries include: home and road construction, hydro and telecommunications, emergency response, transportation, fish harvesting, open pit mining and outdoor recreation.  For more information on safe work practices, visit        

Related Links

Public Weather Alerts for Newfoundland and Labrador: weather

About WorkplaceNL

Serving approximately 13,000 injured workers and 19,000 employers, WorkplaceNL administers an employer-funded, no-fault insurance system that promotes safe and healthy workplaces, provides return-to-work programs and offers compensation to injured workers and their dependents.  

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Media contact

Carla Riggs, Director of Communications
709.778.1590 or


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