It goes without saying that you want to keep your employees’ injury free 365 days a year. But every year, it helps to have a reminder about how to stay safe once winter rears its head.
- For people who work outside, cold stress injuries, including hypothermia, frostbite, overexertion and dehydration cannot be overlooked.
- Even those working inside a well-heated building may have to drive to and from work, cross parking lots or travel on walkways or near eaves covered with heavy snow to get to their desks or stations.
There are a number of winter work hazards you can avoid or mitigate as part of your goal to maintain a zero-incident safety culture at your company.
Around Your Building
Take a trip around your campus – inside buildings and out – to identify and stop any potential winter safety hazards before they start.
- Keep entrances, walkways, parking lots and other high-traffic areas free of ice and snow. Protect your customers, vendors and visitors, as well as your employees, by eliminating seasonal slip-and-fall hazards. Use absorbent floor mats and caution signs wherever necessary.
- Take care of workers responsible for snow removal. Shoveling is a strenuous activity. In addition to cold temperatures ravaging the body, there may be the potential for back or other musculoskeletal injuries, exhaustion, or heart attacks. Direct workers to start slowly and to scoop reasonable amounts of snow at a time. Whenever possible, they should push it instead of lifting it. Provide a refresher course on proper lifting techniques.
- Make sure all powered snow removal equipment is properly grounded to prevent shock or electrocution. In addition, it’s vitally important that workers never clear snowblower jams while the equipment is running. They should turn it off, wait for all moving parts to completely stop, and then use a long stick to clear snow or debris. Never, under any circumstances, should hands or feet be used.
For Employees on the Road
You can’t control winter road conditions any more than you can control the weather. But you can coach your employees on how to stay safe when traveling to and from work. And of course, the same rules apply when they’re driving for personal reasons.
- Ensure workers are properly trained to drive or operate equipment in winter weather conditions. Especially at this time of year, enforce your ongoing maintenance program for all company vehicles and machinery. Be sure employees are adept at safety checks and inspections.
- Encourage employees to carry emergency kits. In addition to a cell phone and charger, essential items include an ice scraper, snow brush and shovel, a flashlight and extra batteries, tow chains, bags of sand or cat litter to use as traction aids, flares, a first aid kit, snacks and water, blankets, and a change of clothes.
How’s your winter – and year-round – safety program? Contact Axiom Staffing today.