SWANA releases tips for dressing for winter work

SWANA released tips for safely dressing for winter Dec. 24 as part of its Safety Monday initiative.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, released tips for safely dressing for winter Dec. 24 as part of its Safety Monday initiative.

As temperatures fall around the country, it’s especially important for those who work outdoors to be prepared to safely withstand the frigid weather as improper dress puts workers at risk for things like hypothermia and frostbite. According to SWANA, preparing to work in cold weather can be easy with prior preparation.

Here are some tips for appropriately layering clothing to withstand winter weather:

The base layer: The base layer is closest to the skin and wicks moisture away from the body. The base layer's fabric and weight are very important.

  • Cotton performs poorly because it holds moisture against the skin.
  • Polypropylene, polyester and merino wool are good base layer fabrics.
  • Workers should wear a thinner base layer during high-aerobic activities and a heavier base layer during stationary activities.

The insulating layer: The insulating layer traps warm air against the body. Workers can use multiple insulating layers, depending on their activity level and the outside temperature.

  • Light, bulky fabrics such as wool, down, polyester fleece or synthetic pile fabrics make the best insulating layers. The shell protects the body and the other two layers from elements such as wind, rain, snow and dirt. The shell is the best defense against wind, rain and snow.

The shell: The shell protects the body and the other two layers from elements such as wind, rain, snow and dirt. The shell is the best defense against wind, rain and snow. 

  • Waterproof and breathable fabrics, called hard-shells, are best for the outer layers (e.g., GORE-TEX).
  • Unless combined with a shell, most insulating layers do not protect against wind, rain and snow by themselves
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