A model for managing cold-related health and safety risks at workplaces

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2003 May;62(2):204-15. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v62i2.17557.


Cold conditions increase health and safety risks at work in several ways. The effects of cold have not been sufficiently taken into consideration in occupational safety and health practices. A systematic model and methods were developed for managing cold-related health and safety risks at workplaces. The development work was performed, in a context-bound manner, in pilot industries and workplaces. The model can be integrated into the company's occupational health and safety management system, such as OHSAS 18001. The cold risks are identified and assessed by using a checklist. The preventive measures are systematically planned in a written form specifically produced for cold workplaces. It includes the organisational and technical preventive measures, protective clothing and personal protective equipment, as well as training and information of the personnel. According to the model, all the workers, foremen, occupational safety personnel and occupational health care personnel are trained to recognise the cold risks and to conduct preventive actions. The developed model was evaluated in the context of cold outdoor (construction) and indoor work (fish processing), and by occupational health and safety professionals. According to the feedback, the model and methods were easy to use after a one-day introduction session. The continuum between the cold risk assessment and management worked well, although there was some overlap in the documentation. The cold risk management model and its methods form an essential part of ISO CD 15743 Strategy for risk assessment, management and work practice in cold environments.

MeSH terms

  • Cold Climate*
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Occupational Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety