The human body is not conditioned for extreme cold weather. Exposure can result in frostbite, hypothermia, cardiac stress, and fatigue. If that is not enough, in prolonged exposure, cognitive function can be impaired. But in colder climates, like Canada, some work continues despite the weather. When exposed to prolonged cold, the human body displays physical stress, including increased heart rate, blood pressure fluctuations, and change in oxygen intake. These responses can vary depending on an individuals’ level of acclimatization, their type of clothing, age, and drinking habits. Environmental factors, like humidity, wind speed, and temperature, also play a role.  There are few regulatory measures currently in place to protect outdoor workers impacted by climate-related hazards.

Researchers wanted to identify the most important physical and mental challenges that construction workers encounter while working in cold weather conditions. The authors surveyed 500 construction workers, asking questions related to demographics, behavior, and cold weather working experience. They then performed data analysis of the descriptive and quantitative data collected from the 111 responses. This study by Sanjgna Karthick, Sharareh Kermanshachi, Apurva Pamidimukkala, and Mostafa Namian, “Analysis of Construction Workers’ Health and Safety in Cold Weather Conditions,” contributes to the industry’s body of knowledge and can be used by construction professionals to improve safety and working conditions for employees exposed to cold conditions. The full paper is available in the Journal of Cold Regions Engineering at The abstract is below.


Extreme cold weather conditions affect construction workers’ health and safety performance. Hence, the goal of this article is to identify and analyze these challenges so that effective measures can be developed and implemented to mitigate or eliminate them. To this end, a questionnaire was created and circulated through the online platform QuestionPro. The Kruskal–Walli’s test was used to examine the physical and mental health issues identified by the 111 responders, and quantitative analysis was performed by using physiological indicators such as heart rate and personal indicators, including degree of comfort and acclimation. The results showed that physical obstacles such as hypothermia and respiratory issues were perceived differently based on heart rate and garment comfort; and mental issues, such as poor concentration and frequent mood swings, varied with the workers’ heart rate and level of acclimatization. Some of the strategies developed for protecting the workers are ensuring that they wear sufficient layers of clothing and heated gloves and have access to technologies such as infrared heaters. Existing practices and legislation that control construction “workers” safety in extreme cold weather conditions are also addressed. The findings of this article will help construction industry professionals effectively manage projects while ensuring their workers’ safety in harsh cold weather conditions.

To better factor working conditions in the cold into your construction plans, read the paper in full in the ASCE Library: