Though spring is looming up ahead, it’s still quite wintery in many parts of the country. Winter safety for employees is always a top priority, as winter conditions can pose many health and safety risks.
Winter weather conditions like snow, ice, and wind place employees at heightened risk, especially if their work requires them to be outside. Plus, travel into the office—and just staying healthy in general—also becomes more difficult.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) always has workers’ best outcomes in mind. You can help your workers stay safe and healthy this winter with the following winter safety for employees recommendations.
Safety from cold, wintery conditions
Cold stress is the term used to describe the effects of cold and dampness on the body. This includes frozen feet (i.e., “trench foot”), frostbite, and hypothermia. It mostly impacts workers who spend large chunks of their workday outside but could affect an employee traveling to and from their worksite. You can help your workers avoid cold stress with the following:
- Training them to recognize dangerous weather conditions.
- Requiring the proper clothing and equipment to protect them during exposure to cold temperatures and dampness.
- Schedule frequent breaks to warm up.
- Schedule work shifts during the warmest part of the day and using the “buddy system” so workers can keep tabs on each other.
Precautions against hazardous situations
In addition to the effects of cold weather on the body, workers should be prepared for other situations they may encounter in the winter months. Understanding how to operate vehicles and machinery when it’s cold outside, drive in the wintertime and properly shovel snow are all important preparedness techniques.
It’s also important to encourage all workers to keep the right supplies inside their vehicle (both commercial and personal) if they should find themselves stranded in a storm. This includes warm clothing, blankets, flares, a first aid kit, water, a cell phone charger, and non-perishable food (such as peanut butter).
Avoiding slips, trips, and falls
This is an important precaution all year long but becomes more pertinent in the winter months. The snow that’s tracked in on boots or equipment can quickly melt and present a hazard within the workplace. Train your employees to properly clean water and use signage to indicate slippery areas within the building. The right footwear is also important, depending on their work setting. Shoes with non-skid soles also help prevent slips, trips, and falls.
Preventing illness in the workplace
Though many employees now find themselves working from home, this isn’t the case for everyone. Precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace are also effective in stopping the spread of cold and flu viruses. Follow all required procedures recommended by your state and local officials, including social distancing, personal protective equipment, deep cleaning, and sanitizing. Remind your workers of the importance of following all precautions to keep themselves and others safe and healthy.
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