ITW Vortec Offers Protection Against Polar Vortex Conditions

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Vortec’s Warming Vest enable industrial employers to guard employees working in cold conditions. Employee safety, productivity and satisfaction is improved.

ITW Vortec Warming Vest

Vortec Dual Action Personal Air Conditioner

The 2014 collapse of the Polar Vortex increases the danger of weather-based workplace health consequences. Frigid air masses resulting from this event and subsequent severe cold conditions pose a severe workplace danger for industrial employees.

The Polar Vortex plunged most of North America into a severe deep freeze in January and further arctic blasts have followed even in the southern U.S. Vortec’s warmth-delivering Dual Action Personal Air Conditioners (PACs) provide an economical means for employers to protect employees whose jobs require coping with severe weather conditions or unconditioned spaces.

“The 2014 collapse of the Polar Vortex increases the danger of weather-based workplace health consequences. Frigid air masses resulting from this event and subsequent severe cold conditions pose a severe workplace danger even for industrial employees who would not ordinarily be at risk,” notes Vortec Engineering Manager Steve Broerman.

Vortec’s air technology expertise helps employers face the heightened risks inherent in this year’s record-setting below-zero temperatures. Vortec’s unique Dual Action PAC helps industrial employees remain safe and productive in all weather conditions. The PAC is versatile enough to protect workers against both winter cold and summer heat waves.

The negative health consequences of working in winter weather are collectively known as cold stress. Cold stress can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and even trench foot. Hypothermia is defined as lowering of the core body temperature to less than 95 degF (35 degC). Vortec offers these health tips to protect workers struggling against the elements during this year’s punishing Polar Vortex winter:

1.    Don’t rely on the ambient temperature alone to determine cold stress. Workers unaccustomed to severe winter can experience cold stress even at temperatures well above freezing. The four factors responsible for cold stress are cold temperatures, wind chill, cold water and dampness. High wind speeds as well as damp conditions, whether caused by rain, sweat or partial or complete water submersion, can cause a rapid and dangerous lowering of body temperature.

2.    Shield work areas from wind. Wind chill significantly increases the risk of cold stress.

3.    Monitor temperature and wind conditions when scheduling employee tasks. When the ambient temperature drops below -15F (-26C), arrange for frequent warming breaks. If the temperature descends another 20 degrees or more, especially if wind chill is also a factor, postpone all non-emergency work.

4.    Increase frequency of warming breaks when employees are performing a task in wind-generating conditions such as riding on an unshielded vehicle.

5.    Keep hot, sweet, non-caffeinated beverages on hand for employee breaks. These kind of drinks aid in restoring body heat and can help protect against hypothermia.

6.    Wearing at least three layers of clothing as well as insulated footwear is advisable when working in cold conditions. Hats or hoods are very important since as much as 40% of body heat can be lost without some form of head covering. The Occupational Health and Safety Division (OSHA) of the US Department of Labor emphasizes that “Protective Clothing is the most important way to avoid cold stress.”

7.    Regularly scheduled warming breaks with Vortec Dual Action PACs can prevent hypothermia and reduce other health risks associated with cold weather. The Dual Action PAC vest provides consistent warmth to the entire torso region as well as to the neck and head.

Employers seeking additional information about Vortec’s Dual Action PAC’s can visit: or call 800-441-7475. For additional information on working in cold weather conditions, visit OSHA at

About Vortec
Cincinnati-based Vortec is a division of the Fortune 150 firm Illinois Tool Works (ITW). Vortec has been recognized as the market leader and innovator of pneumatic products that use compressed air efficiently to solve cooling, cleaning, and conveying problems for more than 50 years. In the early 1960s, Vortec was the first company to develop technology for converting the vortex tube phenomenon into practical and effective, industrial cooling solutions.

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Marcus Shuter
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