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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.


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. Base, mid and outer layers are more effective than one thick layer as insulating air is trapped between layers. 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

As well as controlling their 'thermal comfort' it is important for outdoor workers to protect their extremities from the hazards winter can bring while carrying out work tasks. It can be tempting to sacrifice safety for comfort and warmth, and therefore vital workers are keeping safe and staying compliant. Our range of suitable outdoor clothing, waterproof footwear, warming accessories and winter PPE has been chosen to ensure your safety this season.


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