5 Winter Weather Tips That Will Help Keep You Safe
Category : General Safety
Do you remember that scene in A Christmas Story where Flick gets his tongue stuck to a frozen pole because of a dare?
When considering safe work practices in winter weather, there are plenty of examples of things to avoid and methods to increase safety. Here are five that we recommend.
Winter Safety Requires Vigilance
Regardless of where you live, the climate in your work environment changes during the winter months, and with that comes the need to prepare and adjust the way in which you carry out your job operations.
The usual industrial safety risks can be magnified in the cooler months, especially if your job requires working outdoors or driving. The winter weather that you will endure varies greatly depending on the state or region in which you live, but preparation and prevention are crucial nonetheless.
Know Your Concerns
The first step in implementing the best practices in winter weather industrial safety is acknowledging the concerns that your workplace will experience.
How you handle your industrial work during the winter season is entirely dependent on your location. For example, construction workers in Alaska will need to take much different precautions than workers in the Southwest. Planning for, and distinguishing your workplace’s specific winter weather concerns is useful in determining any sort of safety and incident prevention efforts.
But no matter what, check the weather reports prior to a major outdoor worksite project. Prepare for the elements in advance. Know what to expect and make sure workers are well-protected from exposure to the elements. It’s easier to maintain – and even increase productivity if you’ve taken the steps to train, prepare and protect workers in advance.
Lack of Daylight: Caution and Concern
A major concern to be aware of is the shortened daylight hours. Shorter days can create a gloomy, dreary work environment. In darkness, unnoticed mistakes can be made, incidents can occur, and workers can go down.
The reduced visibility coupled with colder temperatures can also impact workers’ processes – they may want to get it done fast (and not right) to get out of the elements. Or, perhaps workers don’t have adequate lighting, high-visibility wearables and proper cold-weather PPE. Think ahead. Plan for the low-light and weather. Train workers to adjust to environmental challenges. Team-up. And follow-up.
Use Appropriate PPE and Equipment
Fall and winter weather can combine fog, rain, snow, cold, and increased darkness. As a result, outdoor industrial work in this environment requires high-visibility PPE. Personal protective equipment and other types of safety equipment are on the front lines of keeping your workers safe, especially in the winter months.
Decreased visibility while working poses serious risks for industrial occupations. This can make it difficult for workers to see clearly while performing job functions, as well as prohibit workers from seeing each other or other heavy-duty equipment, worksite obstacles and utility lines.
Also, OSHA mandates specific HighViz apparel standards for workers:
To meet OSHA requirements and/or protect your workers when they’re outdoors, high-visibility (Hi-Viz) clothing and equipment is essential.
From vests to gloves to hoodies, Hi-Viz clothing can help to reduce incidents and work challenges, especially when working outside in darkness and the elements. For help in determining the best Hi-Viz equipment for your workplace, check with your local Distributor.
The winter season is often known for a dryness that can cause the skin on your knuckles to crack, but some regions experience quite muggy and wet winters.Therefore, your workplace may become slippery and prone to slips and falls. Even if you work in an extremely cold area, melted snow and ice can also create slick floors.
You can instill few simple practices to reduce incidents such as:
Wearing slip-resistant footwear, exercising caution when entering buildings and getting in and out of vehicles, and avoiding carrying items so that hands can move for stabilization.
Another good idea is to have extra sets of clothing such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, warm beanie hats, and socks available for people to change into if they get wet or cold.
Also, moisture (from sweating, for example) may increase the rate that heat is lost from the body. It’s important for worksites to provide both waterproof clothing AND hydration to keep workers protected and productive.
Winter Driving 101
Whether it snows in your state or not, driving in the bleak winter months may create additional risks due to the potentially wet roads and decreased visibility. Some helpful guidelines for winter driving include checking the weather each day before work and ensuring that all vehicle systems, including brakes, tires, and the engine, are functioning properly.
It is also wise to keep an emergency kit stored in your vehicle equipped with a cellphone or two-way radio, a flashlight, a shovel, jumper cables, maps, and water and snacks. Ultimately, workers should use their best judgement in determining if the winter weather conditions in their workplace are suitable to safely operate machinery.
Cold, Flus, and the Winter Blues
The winter months may also bring a lot of cold stress into your work environment. Although more common in extreme cold, cold stress inflicts cold-related illnesses and injuries, and can affect those working in damp environments, those dressed improperly for the weather, and predisposing health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.
Keep in mind that the gloominess of winter may be reflected in the attitudes of some workers. Employers should be encouraged to keep workplace morale high, even more so when working conditions seem grim.
People just seem to get sick more frequently when the temperature drops. And nobody wants to work alongside someone who is coughing and sniffling all day. Employers should encourage workers to stay home when they have a contagious illness, or one that could be worsened by winter weather.
Although they will need some tailoring depending on the region in which you live, these top five tips will have you on your way to a safe winter working season. Take the cold climate concerns of your workplace and apply the appropriate prevention methods to your PPE, driving, and operating procedures.
Interested in knowing more about how you can better your safety standards all year round? Schedule a free safety consultation:
https://www.mallory.com/Contact-Us Toll Free: 1-800-MALLORY