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Winter Weather and Workplace Safety

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Be it slipping and falling on ice or hurting your back from shoveling snow, there are plenty of winter weather hazards to keep in mind when thinking about workplace safety. The good news is most risks associated with winter weather are actually foreseeable. Here are some winter safety tips to help keep your workplace and your employees safer this season:
1. Monitor weather-causing threats and have a way to communicate with all your employees about weather and its disruptions, including time-sensitive information on impossible commutes, power outages and work schedule modifications.
2. Protect mobile and outdoor employees as they are especially vulnerable to weather conditions, so make sure they are properly trained on winter work safety precautions and are provided appropriate equipment and tools.
3. With remote work still being the norm for many businesses, make sure you are communicating typical risks they may face in their homes, both physically (ie. shoveling snow/slips and falls) and mentally (ie. seasonal affective disorder, feelings of isolation) and have a mechanism in place to regularly conduct employee wellness checks.
4. Take steps to prepare your facilities and worksites for winter weather as falls are one of the biggest risk people face. Making sure your parking lots, sidewalks and steps are plowed, shoveled and salted, and placing large, absorbent mats at every entrance will help prevent slips.

When thinking about winter weather, here’s a quick list of some definite “need to have” supplies:
• Rock salt and ice melt
• Shovels with heavy duty wide heads
• Snow blowers
• Floor mats – best ones are made from olefin fiber, which absorbs moisture, dries quickly and is resistant to mildew
• Caution signs – floors become wet and slippery
• Slip-resistant tape – to help with traction and prevent falls
• Drain cleaner – outdoor drains and interior floor drains can back up with all the extra water from melted snow, which mans more risk for falls
• Generator – find out which systems are essential to continue running if you were to lose power and have a generator in place capable of backing up those systems
• Surge protectors
• First-aid kits
• Emergency preparedness kit, including a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food, as well as flashlights, batteries, a radio, personal hygiene items, extra coats, gloves and hats, a cell phone and extra chargers
• Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes – flu season is here, and we are still dealing with COVID

With a little preparation and having effective communication, these winter months will be much more tolerant for you and your employees.

 

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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