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Cold Related Illnesses & Injuries

Many construction jobs expose employees to cold temperatures during the winter months.  It important that employees know how to protect themselves, the signs and symptoms of cold related injuries or illnesses and what to do if they occur.  Cold related illnesses can slowly overcome a person who has been chilled.  The three factors to consider when determining if cold related injuries or illness could occur are low temperatures, wind speed and wetness.  The following are cold related illnesses and injuries and how workers can protect themselves.

Frostbite – Freezing in deep layers of the skin and tissue.   Skin becomes hard and numb and looks pale or waxy-white in color.  It usually affects the fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears and nose.

If frostbite occurs:  Move the person to a warm dry area, do not leave the person alone.  Remove any wet or tight clothing that may cut off blood flow to the affected area.  Do not rub the affected area (rubbing causes damage to the skin and tissue).  Gently place the affected area in warm water and monitoring the water temperature to slowly warm the tissue, do not pour warm water directly on the affect area (warming takes 25 to 40 minutes).  After the affected area has been warmed it may become puffy and blister, the affected area may have a burning feeling or numbness, when normal feeling, movement and skin color have returned, the affected area should be dried and wrapped to keep it warm.  If there is a chance the affected area may get cold again, do not warm the skin.  Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Hypothermia – The normal body temperature (98.6 degrees F) drops to or below 95 degrees F.  Signs and symptoms include fatigue or drowsiness, uncontrolled shivering, cool bluish skin, slurred speech, clumsy movements or irritable, irrational or confused behavior.  If hypothermia occurs:  Call for emergency help immediately.   Move the person to a warm, dry area.  Do not leave the person alone.  Remove any wet clothing and replace with warm, dry clothing or wrap the person in blankets.  Have the person drink warm, sweet drinks, like sugar water or sport drinks, if they are alert.  Avoid drinks with caffeine, like coffee, tea or hot chocolate, or alcohol.  Have the person move their arms and legs to create muscle heat.  If they are unable to do this, place warm bottles or hot packs in the arm pits, groin, neck and head areas.  Do not rub the person’s body or place them in a warm water bath, this could cause the heart to stop.

Employees can protect themselves by:

  • Recognizing the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms or cold-induced illness/injuries and what to do to help the worker.
  • Select proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions.  Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures.  Wear a hat and gloves, in addition to underwear that will keep water away from the skin.
  • Take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.
  • Perform work during the warmest part of the day, if possible.
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages, like sugar water or sport drinks.  Avoid drinks with caffeine, like coffee, tea or hot chocolate, or alcohol.
  • Eat warm, high calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.

Employees are at an increased risk when:

  • They have predisposing health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.
  • They take certain medication.  Check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacy and ask if any medicines you are taking affect you while working in cold environments.
  • They are in poor physical condition, have a poor diet, or are older.

Lockout – Tagout (LOTO) Training


The purpose of the Lockout/Tagout procedure is to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machines or equipment or release of stored energy that could cause injury to employees.   According to OSHA failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10% of serious accidents.

Hazardous Energy

Hazardous energy can be found during the maintenance and repairGribbins Insulation - Toolbox Talk of electrical equipment, vehicles and other equipment, routine lubrication of moving machine parts, sanitation or cleaning of machinery, clearing jammed equipment or machinery, removing existing insulation on line with heat tracing and maintenance of high-pressure, high temperature hazardous pipelines just to name a few.  There are many different types of hazardous energy including, but not limited to, electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, chemical and thermal.  Potential hazards that exist if equipment is not properly locked and tagged out include:  electric shock, fire and explosions, asphyxiation, amputations, caught in, chemical exposure or even death.


Gribbins Insulation LOTO procedures are:  1. A person shall be designated to oversee and assure compliance with the LOTO procedures.  2. Before the procedure begins, a member of the safety department or designee will perform a final evaluation.  3. Turn off the point of operation controls.  4. Turn off the main power controls.  5. The designated person shall lock the equipment out and a danger tag shall be filled out and placed on the lock.  The tag and tie shall be securely attached and able to endure the environmental conditions at the worksite.  6. Test the switch or valve to make sure it cannot be turned “ON”.  7. Test the machine controls to make sure the main controls are really “OFF”.  8. When work is completed, the designated person shall remove the lock and danger tag and notify the proper person that the work is finished and equipment is operational.  The Gribbins Insulation Company LOTO procedure shall only be used if the jobsite does not already have a procedure in effect.  On many of these jobsite the owner will lock out the designated points and then the foreman will lock on to a group lockbox and place his key in a satellite lock box for other employees to lock on to.  In these cases, employees should walk down the lock out points to verify that everything has been locked out and the equipment is not operational.

General Rules

  • Locks and danger tags are to be used for all LOTO procedures
  • Make sure all energy sources are locked and tagged out, many machines have more than on power supply.
  • Never attempt to restart or reenergize any equipment or machinery without the consent of the designated person.
  • Danger tags shall be legible, understandable and include: the employees doing the job, the equipment locked out and the date of initiation and removal.
  • Tags are never to be removed without the authorization of the designated person. They are never to be bypassed, ignored, or otherwise defeated.
  • Employees may receive a false sense of security form tags. Tags warn and provide information to the employees.  They do not stop hazardous energy, the locks do.
  • If you feel as though a piece of equipment or machinery is not properly locked and tagged, stop work and inform the designated person immediately.

Annual Field Meetings Featured Local Flavor

This year, our Annual Field Meetings for Gribbins Insulation had a local focus, taking place at each field site during the months of August through October. The gatherings provided opportunities for management and field employees to share a meal as well as conversation. Topics discussed included company updates, upcoming projects, in addition to the status of both the union medical fund and the pension fund. Jim Gribbins, Founder and President, along with Area Managers, Safety Department personnel, and Vice Presidents were present at each event. Jim expressed his appreciation for all team members who attended.

Venues and Turnouts:

August 30: Lunch with the Lilly Team at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis (30 attendees)

August 30: Dinner with the Local 51 Team at the Louisville Bats game (20 attendees)

September 19: Evansville Team met for dinner in the Dakota Room at Gribbins Headquarters (60 attendees)

October 2: Marathon Team lunch in Robinson, Illinois (25 attendees)

October 2: Terre Haute Team dinner at the legendary Rick’s Smokehouse (25 attendees)

October 3: Calvert City Team dinner (20 attendees)

Gribbins Recertified as a VPP Star

Gribbins Insulation earned recertification as a ‘STAR’ participant in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) for work performed by its team at Eli Lilly Company in Indianapolis. The VPP initiative is administered by Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL), which works cooperatively with OSHA and employers to proactively prevent fatalities, injuries and illnesses. According to a news release issued by IDOL announcing the recertification, the VPP is implemented “through a system focused on prevention, control, analysis and training committed to worker involvement.”

The ‘STAR’ recertification was presented to Gribbins August 30, 2017 during an annual field meeting and luncheon for the Gribbins Eli Lilly team in Indianapolis. The ‘STAR’ was bestowed by Rick J. Ruble, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Labor. Other key IDOL representatives were also in attendance. On hand to receive the ‘STAR’ were Jim Gribbins, President and Founder of Gribbins Insulation, and Gribbins Safety Manager, Trevor Atherton.

According to the IDOL news release, “Gribbins Insulation’s Eli Lilly Indianapolis site has an impressive clean slate for OSHA-recordable injuries and illnesses, with no recordable cases or ‘Lost Work Day’ cases for the previous four years. The national industry average Total Case Incidence Rate (TCIR) is 2.6 per 100 workers.” Gribbins received praise from IDOL Commissioner Rick J. Ruble, who enthused, “The company truly demonstrates how a culture of workplace safety and health can have a positive influence.”

Gribbins Insulation Adds Safety Coordinator, Kent Kafka

Evansville, Indiana – In its ongoing commitment to exceeding industry safety standards, Gribbins Insulation announces the addition of Kent Kafka as Safety Coordinator. In his new post, Kafka reports to Trevor Atherton, Safety Manager, and notes he is excited about working with fellow Safety Coordinators, Rick Jordan and Connor McCoy. Kafka brings over 20 years of expertise to Gribbins, including prior experience as an Indiana OSHA Industrial Hygiene Compliance Officer, as well serving as an Industrial Hygienist/Safety Consultant. In describing what drew him to Gribbins, Kafka explains, “Gribbins’s outstanding reputation for safety, and literally, a room full of safety awards, and the opportunity to perform training attracted me to the position.” He adds, “What I find most impressive about Gribbins’s projects is the use of the latest technology and state of the art methods of producing and installing insulation, all while using the safest methods and going beyond what the OSHA standards require.” In discussing his responsibility as a member of the Gribbins team, he states, “As a Safety Coordinator, the key role is to serve as a resource for insulators and provide an additional pair of eyes, and options on how to perform the job safely as a team.”

Kafka holds a Bachelor of Science degree as well as a Master of Science degree, both in Microbiology, from the University of Illinois. His professional certifications include Certified Hazardous Materials Manager, Licensed Asbestos Building Inspector, Asbestos Project Supervisor, Water Damage Restoration, and Applied Microbial Remediation. Kafka is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association local chapter.

A native of Aurora, Illinois, Kafka has resided in the Indianapolis area for more than two decades. Although based in the Gribbins Indianapolis office, he will conduct training and provide support at the various Gribbins facilities and project sites. In his personal life, Kent is actively involved in his children’s sports and musical activities.

Founded in 1985, Gribbins Insulation is a commercial and industrial mechanical insulation contractor serving the Midwestern United States. Headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, the company has five branch offices in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.

President’s Message

Core Values Update

Posted: 08/23/17 By: Megan Knoll, Dir of Marketing

Integrity, Safety, Quality, and Service are the four cornerstones of our work.

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NEW Points Redemption Site!

Posted: 08/01/17 By: Megan Knoll, Dir of Marketing

Visit www.gribbinspoints.com to redeem your points!

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Toolbox Talk

Cold Related Illnesses & Injuries

Posted: 12/11/17 By: Trevor Atherton, Safety Mgr

Many construction jobs expose employees to cold temperatures during the winter months. It important that employees know how to protect themselves.

Read Full Article

Lockout – Tagout (LOTO) Training

Posted: 12/04/17 By: Trevor Atherton, Safety Mgr

Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10% of serious accidents.

Read Full Article