Working outdoors in winter can be tough if you are not properly dressed. Winter clothes are made to keep you warm and offer protection from the elements.
As an owner of a business venture you need to consider your employees’ health and safety.
Step into their shoes to find out and decide which is the best workwear for winter.
When ordering or buying winter work clothes for your employees who work outdoors, make sure you use the correct material. Wool, polyester fleece and polypropylene are good options as clothes made with these products preserve the heat.
Avoid cotton apparel in winter.When wet from rain, snow or sweat, it draws heat from the body. This can be seen when cotton clothing like t-shirt are the first item you wear close to your skin.
When the weather is dry or windy, the insulating quality of goose down will keep you warm. But, if it gets wet, it will no longer protect you from the cold rain or snow.
Temperatures can fluctuate during the day, so it’s better for your staff to dress in loose-fitting layers. They can add or shed layers depending on the weather and work conditions and still be comfortable.
While layering keep in mind, the clothes should be able to trap heat and at the same time be able to keep perspiration under control. However, the clothes should be warm and comfortable to work in.
Simply add on layers when you have less activities or shed layers if the work is more strenuous. The key is to be comfortable.
The first layer of clothing on your body is often called a ‘Wicking Layer’. This layer should be able to retain heat and at the same time allowing any moisture from perspiration to move onto the next layer. This way your body will not feel cold from your own perspiration.
The next layer of clothing maintains the heat and keeps you warm. It is a light insulating layer over the wicking layer. For this wear a light fleecy jacket or a thin wool sweater.
After the light insulating layer, if the temperature persists on being cold and making you feel uncomfortable just add another heavier insulating layer. The heavy fleece or wool sweater whichever you prefer will protect you from losing body heat and will keep you warm and comfortable.
Again, it totally depends on the climatic conditions as to which outer layer you will need to protect you against the wind and rain and whether it is waterproof.
It’s a basic fact that you lose the most heat from your head.It’s important to keep your head properly covered and protected from the elements at work, say the cold or rain otherwise you may end up with a headacheor even fall ill. Head gear is usually easy to take off and put back on depending on your comfort levels.
If you need to protect your head and neck, use a hard hat/helmet with liners. Use a fleece liner as it’s an indication of a good insulator and is comfortable to wear.
The combination of a hard hat and liner is effective as the former breaks the wind and the latter helps you keep warm. How long or short the liner should be is all your choice, pick one which has the appropriate length for your comfort from various options available in the market.
It’s a good idea to have a couple of these hats, so when you wash the liners (which you should do on a regular basis), there is another one in reserve, ready for use.
Along with helmets, beanies, hard hat liners, balaclavas and wind stoppers, scarves are also a good way to keep your head and neck warm.
It’s hard to work when your hands are freezing. Well-fitted gloves protect your hands from cold and let you work. If the temperature falls if gloves are not enough to keep your hands warm, opt for mitts. Just remember to wear a thin glove under the mitts. By doing so, when there is a technical or delicate task to perform, you may find it troublesome to remove it without exposing your bare hands and have some form of protection. And when the work is complete, it’s easier to put the mitts back on.
Mitts are perfect for freezing weather conditions whereas gloves are better for cold temperature.
When you are looking for mitts for outdoor work which requires more dexterity, get the ones which have a separate index finger. It will help you complete the job in comfort.
There are various types of gloves and mitts suitable for outdoor work in winter such as glove liners, lightweight gloves, winter work gloves, work mittens, water-proof winter gloves, leather work mittens and water-proof mittens.
These products will allow some finger movement that is useful for work while keeping your hands warm and safe from the cold elements.
Socks, Boots and Gaiters
While working during the cold months, some choose to wear thick but single woolen socks, and there are some who prefer to wear two layers of socks. However most people wear socks depending on the work and weather conditions.
Supposedly, a good combination is wearing a thin polypropylene sock under a woolen sock. It helps in wicking moisture, and the woolen sock keeps you warm even when wet.
Keep a spare pair of warm woolen sock at work just in case.
In regards to safety boots, get a boot with just enough room for your toes to comfortably wriggle around; getting a tight fit will limit your blood circulation. Have boots which have a good insulation and a strong grip as these will help you walk on slippery surfaces.
If your work involves hiking, it’s a good idea to don on gaiters over your hiking boots. It will prevent wind, rain and snow from getting into the boots. It also helps to keep your legs warm.
Extra Tips to keep you warm
Food for Warmth
In winter, your body will produce heat to stay warm. To maintain this, you will need to eat healthy fats that is easy to digest and which turns into energy. Healthy fats are easier to shed off during the summer, so you don’t need to worry too much about gaining a little extra weight.
In order to stay warm and to keep your energy levels high all day in cold conditions outside, take meals or snacks throughout the day rather than having two heavy meals (breakfast and dinner) with nothing else in between. There are a number of good carbohydrate sources available. Bread, butter, cheese, meat, eggs and other foods providing high energy levels also work great for keeping you healthy and warm.
It’s important to keep your body hydrated. So, drink lots of hot beverages in winter. Have a bottle of hot water within your reach when working outside. You should drink water even before you get thirsty. Taking 3-4 litres of water in a day should keep you well hydrated.
Talking about hot beverages, avoid drinking coffee and alcohol. There is a misconception that these drinks keep a person warm in winter. But in reality, these drinks only hamper a body’s ability to heat itself. Especially alcohol which reduces the core body temperature and makes it difficult to shiver(body’s mechanism to produce heat).
When you work on a task requiring a lot of physical effort, you lose more body fluids. So, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
Keep an eye on each other
“Employees should look out for each other”, it’s one of the important workplace safety rules. When working outside in cold conditions, ensure that your team members are dressed properly and have access to plenty of warm foods and liquids.In case you are working alone, let someone from your team know your work and travel details as a safety measure.
Lastly, don’t forget your sunglasses and moisturizer!
Well, these are a few useful tips on dressing for winter work conditions
How do you dress in winter for outside work? Got tips of your own? Share them with us. We would love to hear from you.