In this article originally published by Gibson's Loss Prevention Manager, Gary Clark, we explore best practices for staying safe during the cold winter months. With the cold weather, winter brings a slew of workplace safety hazards. From proper attire to snow removal and slippery surfaces, you should be thinking about how the cold weather impacts your employees. How can you protect them from the cold this winter?
Consider the following tips to keep your workforce prepared and protected:
- Educate employees on the impact cold weather can have on the body including cold stress, frostbite, and hypothermia, what symptoms and signs to monitor, and precautions they can take to avoid these injuries/illnesses. The National Institute For Occupational Safety & Health provides several resources to help you explain the dangers and preventative measures to employees, as well as this Cold Stress Quick Card from OSHA.
- Just as we remind our children to wear their coats, hats, and gloves when going out in the cold, it is also critical for individuals working in cold temperatures to dress appropriately. Make sure employees have proper protective equipment to keep their head, hands, body, and feet warm. Layers of loose clothing are recommended to provide better insulation and blood circulation.
- Provide time for workers to get acclimated to working in cold weather. Also consider adjusting schedules/workload to keep workers safe such as scheduling work for the warmest part of the day, shortening the length of outdoor shifts, assigning extra workers for long/demanding jobs, and reminding workers to take frequent short breaks in a warm and dry shelter.
- Encourage workers to drink warm, sweet beverages and to avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. You could even provide appropriate drinks in a warm, dry shelter to help ensure workers are taking the proper precautions.
- Use engineering controls where possible to reduce the risk of cold stress. For example, radiant heaters may be used to help warm up workers. You could also shield work areas from wind or drafts, and use insulating material on the handles of equipment when the temperature drops below freezing.
Keep workplace safety a top priority this winter as the temperature continues to drop!