Layer Up with High Visibility Clothing in Cold Weather

by HiVis365 Team

Layer Up with High Visibility Clothing in Cold Weather

When working in cold environments, you are naturally exposed to cold stress, which can lead to serious implications on your health including the development of hypothermia, frostbite, trenchfoot, and chilblains. Air temperature, wind chill, and exposure to wetness can all contribute towards your exposure to cold stress while at work. Limiting exposed skin and layering up with hi vis clothing are two vital steps that you can take to maintain a warmer internal core temperature, reduce your exposure to cold stress, and help to ensure that you stay seen and visible while hard at work.

When deciding how to layer up with high visibility clothing to work in cold weather, it is important to ensure that the high visibility clothing that you are layering up with is designed to retain insulation, such as those constructed with synthetic, silk, and wool fabrics. Tight fitting clothing can restrict blood flow to your extremities and therefore put you at greater risk for cold stress, which is why OSHA suggests to layer up with a series of loose fitting clothing. Not only that, but tight fitting clothing can be physically restricting and hazardous on the job site.

Layer Up for Cold Weather with High Visibility Clothing

Choose a Base Layer to Keep Moisture Away
Moisture, sweat, and dampness can all contribute to cold stress and let us face it, hard work has a way of bringing on the sweat. Choose a hi vis base layer that is moisture wicking, comfortable, and designed to help keep you dry. Avoid hi vis base layers constructed of cotton as when cotton becomes wet; it loses the ability to provide insulation. Choose a short sleeve high visibility t-shirt or long sleeve high visibility t-shirt with moisture wicking as a comfortable base layer to help keep you dry, visible, and maximize the effectiveness of your insulation.
Petra Roc LJTS2 Class 2 Lime Jersey Knit Pocket Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Select a Middle Layer to Insulate
Your next layer of hi vis clothing should help to trap air close to your body and retain body heat, adding insulation and helping to keep you warm. Choose a high visibility sweatshirt or high visibility fleece for that added warmth that you need on a cold day at work.
Petra Roc LBHSW-C3 Class 3 Thermal Two Tone Hooded Zip-Up Sweatshirt
Choose an Outer Layer to Keep you Protected from the Weather
Your outer layer of high visibility clothing is the layer of hi vis clothing most closely exposed to the elements, which means that it should serve to protect you against adverse weather conditions including wind, rain, and snow.  If moisture or wind chill are able to penetrate your inner layers, then their effectiveness in providing insulation will be hindered.  Therefore, look for wind and water resistance in a high visibility outer layer. A high visibility bomber jacket with wind and water resistance built in is a great option for an outer layer that will help to keep you protected from the weather while providing that extra visibility that you need on the job site. We also offer numerous options for high visibility winter jackets that have multiple layers built in and don’t forget to package your outer layer with a pair of high visibility rain pants and bibs to help keep your legs protected from cold exposure as well!
Petra Roc LBBJ-C3 ANSI Class 3 Waterproof Bomber Jacket
Headwear – Help retain your body heat with a high visibility hat, hood, and/or face mask.
Petra Roc LBE-S1 Lime High Visibility Reflective Beanie Hat
GlovesInsulated and water resistant work gloves will help to keep your hands warm and cozy in the cold weather.
Portwest A724 Safety Impact Glove, Lined
Footwear – Keep your feet protected with a pair of insulated and waterproof footwear.
The best part of being prepared for the cold weather and layering up with high visibility clothing is that if you do feel as if you are going to be overheated, you can dress down without compromising visibility or functionality.

Here are a few more tips that OSHA suggests in limiting your risk of cold stress at work:

  • Schedule your more intensive work during the hours that it is forecast to be warmer outside. Keep in mind that air temperature, wind chill, and moisture all contribute towards cold stress at work, so be sure to get the most accurate forecast.
  • Take breaks in warm areas to raise your internal temperature and take them frequently.
  • Work in a group, so that you are able to monitor each other for exposure to cold stress.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking warm and sweet fluids. Pack a thermos, so that it is always at the ready! Refrain from alcoholic and caffeinated beverages that will accelerate the rate at which you will lose body heat. In the same sense, ensure that you are eating well-balanced meals.
  • Be prepared for the cold weather that you might be exposed to and bring spare clothing.

Note: These tips have been compiled using resources provided by OSHA and serve to provide generally useful tips. Whether you're a snow plow operator, law enforcement officer, or firefighter, the length that you're exposed to the cold weather, level that you're exposed to the cold weather, and the type of weather that you face will all effect how you have to prepare for the cold weather.

Other Resources on Limiting Exposure Cold Stress at Work:

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