Much like summer working conditions, winter working conditions can definitely impact your team. Make sure you have these safety measures in place to avoid any unnecessary winter workplace accidents. Here’s some great safety tips to avoid winter workplace accidents.
Clear sidewalks of snow and ice
Snow removal companies can be a huge help, but they clear only large open areas while allowing snow and ice accumulation along walkways. Constantly monitor the places where your employees (and visitors!) need to walk, including parking lots and sidewalks. Use de-icing agents, shovel as needed, and encourage team members to report slippery spots.
Insist on slip-resistant footwear
At this time of year, everyone should be wearing slip-resistant shoes outdoors. If you run a warehouse or other facility that requires employees to spend significant amounts of time carrying heavy loads outside, make it mandatory. Slips and falls are a constant winter workplace hazard, so it only makes sense to reduce the risks.
Keep inside floors dry
It only takes a small amount of tracked-in snow to create a watery mess inside, so pay attention to your interior floors. Provide a thick, waterproof welcome mat and ask everyone to wipe their feet as they enter. If you do notice water on the floor, mop it up right away if possible. If you seem to be fighting a losing battle, use barricades and Wet Floor signs to alert workers and guests.
Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia
Frostbite and hypothermia are constant winter risks. Both are considered medical emergencies, so call 911 if you suspect either condition.
Signs of frostbite include:
- Very cold, numb, pale skin
- Stiffness in the muscles and/or joints
- Blisters or swelling
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Severe shivering
- Extreme fatigue
- Slurred speech
Provide training on winter workplace safety
Especially in a light industrial environment, workers may put pressure on themselves or each other to “gut it out.” They might be inclined to skip putting on a proper coat, to carry extra-heavy loads despite treacherous footing, or to shrug off potential signs of cold-related illnesses.
Combat these tendencies through education. Hold regular safety meetings that stress the importance of dressing properly for conditions and following protocols. Encourage them to look out for each other and to err on the side of caution. Make it easy to report potential hazards.
This is also a good time to review your workers’ compensation and risk management protocols. If an accident does happen, you’ll want to respond quickly and all staff should be aware of procedures and proper notification and communication requirements.
You’ll never be able to eliminate all the winter workplace risks that Mother Nature can throw at you. But paying attention to winter safety, and encouraging your team members to do the same, can greatly increase your odds of coming through the cold months with your team unscathed.
These safety tips to avoid winter workplace accidents can be helpful; but it takes everyone on your team being diligent and looking for problems or an unsafe area. Often, accidents and injury can be avoided by careful observation and correction.
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