Though we are given a daily weather forecast, winter proves to be a unique and unpredictable season. The winter months bring several workplace dangers which are not encountered during other parts of the year. From driving and walking into work, to workplace winter conditions, it is important to be prepared and mindful of safety and preventable hazards.
Winter weather hazards can catch us off guard, so winter workplace safety is crucial. If you work outside, wearing the proper personal protective equipment such as boots, jackets, hats, facemasks, and gloves will keep you safe against extreme winter weather conditions. In addition to wearing the proper PPE to work safely in, it is important to be able to detect the signs of skin dangers such as hypothermia, frostnip and frostbite.
More than 20% of annual vehicle crashes are weather-related. Whether driving to work or driving for work, here are some quick winter driving safety tips to keep in mind during your winter commute:
If stranded due to inclement weather, remain in your vehicle, call 911 and notify your emergency contact if able. Ensure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Surfaces are slippery when wet during the winter months. Snow, sleet, and ice add major walking safety hazards. To ensure workplace safety, all walkways should be properly treated with salt or deicer. Ensure any parking lots are plowed and offer a clear path to main building entrances. Encourage workers to wear proper shoes such as boots with treads to grip. Employers are encouraged to provide rubber mats at doorway entrances and display "wet floor" signs near appropriate areas.
Winter months pose a challenge for employees at times. As an employer, it is important to remind your employees that they may need:
Days when weather poses safety hazards, consider allowing employees to work from home. Check-in with employees to ensure they are alright mentally if their behavior seems abnormal. Employees appreciate "wellness checks," for it proves the employer cares about the employee as a human being.
As Occupational Health and Safety Professionals, we realize the importance of keeping employees safe on and off the job. Safety is more than just finding solutions to unsafe behavior by responding to workplace accidents. Safety is about identifying and preventing hazards from happening. Amerisafe Group can assist with your company's safety management effort on-site or internally through program assessment and development.