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Winter Safety in the Workplace

It's that time of year, again. Many OSHA rules apply to winter risks, and in general, different safety and liability risks exist during the cold months. During the holidays, employee's get confused about attendance and, additionally, pay-related issues often occur. Here are some tips to help your company ease into the winter months.

General Winter Safety Guidelines

  • Preventing slips. An employee slipping and falling on icy ground disrupts work and could lead to legal claims. Remember to shovel your pathways and spread sand or salt on the ice, providing a rough surface for footwear to grip. Always use floor mats and “wet floor” signs at your entrances.

  • Closing policies. Identify one officer in your company, plus a back-up, to monitor the weather and decide about closings, delays, or early leave times. Be sure all your employees know the official method of communicating this information.

  • Handling pay-related issues. Exempt and non-exempt employees are treated differently for work cancellations due to inclement weather. Make sure to clearly communicate these differences to all employees.

  • Driving safely. Ensure that the vehicles used for business activities have appropriate fluid levels (including gas) and that tires have good treads. Provide your drivers with a snow scraper, blanket, first aid kit, and flashlight – just in case. Remind drivers to go slowly on icy roads and overpasses, and to pay attention to changing conditions.


    Safety Tips to Protect Your Outdoor Workers

  • Appropriate clothing. Encourage your outdoor workers to wear layers, which allow them to adjust their protection as they get warmer or colder as activity levels change. Suggest that they bring extra hats or hoods, socks, gloves, etc. in case they get wet, which drastically increases the risk of injury.

  • Schedule warm-up breaks. If possible, get workers indoors occasionally to warm up. Supply water and hot drinks for hydration, and avoid caffeine. If temperatures start to plummet, stop work immediately and get your team inside.

  • Arrange for shelter in windy conditions. If possible, set up a wind-break around the workspace to minimize wind chill.

  • Train your employees. Frostbite and hypothermia happen quickly, so train your employees to recognize the signs and symptoms and to get inside if they see them. Train them to watch out for their fellow workers, and on proper first-aid treatment.

  • Prevent slips. Be sure your outdoor workers wear insulated winter boots with strong tread. Again, shovel pathways and spread sand or salt on the ice to prevent falls.

  • Provide a heated shelter. If you are heating a shelter with a non-electric heater, be sure you have adequate ventilation to let gases, like carbon monoxide, escape. Or, use a heater that pumps the air inside from an outside generator.

           

 We are pleased to help your company and your employees get through the blustery winter season without incident.  If you have any questions or specific concerns, please contact us.

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