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Layer Up This Winter

Arco's outdoor clothing: Changeable as the weather

In 2018 a construction company and security firm failed to provide winter outdoor clothing and a reliable source of heating during extreme winter weather conditions, and as a result led to a 74-year-old wind farm security guard dying from hypothermia¹.

As winter approaches outdoor workers need to be protected from the dangers of extreme cold. In order to protect employees and allow them to work at their optimum productivity level they need to be given the ability to maintain a comfortable body temperature.


Working Safely in Cold Environments

Accident frequency increases more than 35% with excessively warm or cold workplace temperatures². People working in uncomfortably hot or cold environments are more likely to behave unsafely because their ability to make decisions and/or perform manual tasks deteriorates³.

As experts in safety, we are committed to keeping you and your workforce safe and well in winter. In order to manage employees' health and wellbeing it is important to take their thermal comfort into consideration.

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In each case, the question should be asked whether hazardous conditions can be avoided altogether, or work can be changed so that employees are less exposed to heat and cold stress. Where possible, projects and daily work schedules should be planned around weather conditions. For example, maintenance and repair jobs can be planned for less harsh months.

However, in many sectors, work must continue despite adverse winter weather and employers owe a duty of care to their workforce. For businesses with outdoor workers, equipping staff to complete tasks to the best of their ability and continue the smooth running of the business is a must.

As well as improving health and safety, taking care of your outdoor workers is also likely to improve morale and productivity.


6 Factors Affecting Thermal Comfort

The six basic factors affecting thermal comfort are both environmental and personal. These factors may be independent of each other, but together contribute to an employee's thermal comfort. This means workers will often need different layers to achieve a comfortable level of thermal comfort.

Environmental Factors

  • Air temperature - the temperature of the air surrounding the body
  • Radiant temperature - thermal radiation is the heat that radiates from a warm object
  • Air velocity - the speed of air moving across the employee and may help cool them if the air is cooler than the environment
  • Humidity - High humidity environments have a lot of vapour in the air, which prevents the evaporation of sweat from the skin

Personal factors

  • Clothing insulation - thermal comfort is very much dependent on the insulating effect of clothing on the wearer. Wearing too much clothing or PPE may be a primary cause of heat stress even if the environment is not considered warm or hot
  • Metabolic heat - the more physical work employees do; the more heat they produce. The more heat is produced; the more heat needs to be lost so workers don't overheat

A Layering System

One of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your employees against their environment is to provide them with a layering system.

A layering system is a way of wearing different technical garments to protect the wearer from changing weather conditions and temperatures. Multiple layers are more effective than one thick layer as insulating air is trapped between layers. Wearing multiple layers also allows the wearer to add or remove layers depending on their level of activity or external environment, helping them to remain in control of their own personal "thermal comfort" levels at all times. At the extremes this helps prevent hypothermia and heat exhaustion.


How to Dress for the Weather

Outer Layers

The outer layer is your shield against wind, rain and abrasion; it protects the wearer from the elements, so it needs to be windproof and waterproof. Also look for an outer layer that is breathable enough for their work activity, so they don't overheat. Garments made with GORE-TEX® are durably waterproof, windproof and breathable. Built to offer comfort and lightness, professionals can focus on the job at hand knowing their jacket will withstand the rigours of their work environment.

Outer layers

Mid Layers

The purpose of the mid layer is to trap in the heat and provide warmth. This insulating layer should be made of synthetic or wool fibres and be quite tight fitting so that it limits air movement which retains heat. A good warmth layer should be lightweight, warm, quick drying and let perspiration escape from the base layer while still being insulating.

Mid Layers

Insulated Jackets

There are two main types of insulation, synthetic and natural down. Natural down uses light, fluffy bird feathers which are naturally insulating. Natural down effectively maintains body heat that is generated by trapping air and prevents heat loss.

Synthetic insulated jackets mimic natural down insulation to provide extra warmth in cold conditions. Small pockets trap heat from the body and repel the cold, keeping you warm and comfortable without the bulk. Modern synthetic fibres don't absorb water and are faster drying than traditional down jackets, so better maintain their performance and are breathable too.

Insulated Jackets

Base Layers

Thermal underwear provides an additional layer and wicks away moisture, to keep the body warm in cold conditions. Our new Arco eco-friendly and economical base layer range has been made through collaboration with Lyfcycle with a vision to making workwear more sustainable. Made with a zero-waste approach and using recycled and eco-friendly materials, our thermal long johns, short and long sleeve vests offer a snug fit that sits well under clothes to keep you warm.

Base Layers

Hats

It has been recognised that much of heat lost through the body is through the head, so this is a key area to protect when working in cold environments. By wearing a hat, it allows the body to retain heat and keep warm. When working in cold temperatures the body starts to try and keep organs warm by reducing blood flow to areas furthest from the heart including, ears, fingers and toes. These areas require additional protection.

Hats

Hand Protection Against Thermal Hazards

Don't be tempted to sacrifice safety for comfort and warmth during the winter months. Arco provide a wide range of gloves that provide the necessary protection for your hands while insulating properties ensure that they stay warm, even in the coldest conditions.

Hand Protection against Thermal Hazards

Waterproof Footwear

Comfort is a key aspect when working on your feet all day as a worker suffering from discomfort is less likely to be alert and more likely to act unsafely resulting in an accident. We carry a large range of safety footwear including safety boots, hiker safety boots, shoes and wellingtons suitable for various climate conditions.

Waterproof Footwear

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