Ice, snow, freezing rain, and frigid temperatures – there’s no doubt that winter months can get messy. That doesn’t mean, however, that your job site has to! Winter weather does more than just complicate your work commute. It can also cause job site hazards, whether you are simply shoveling snow, operating a company vehicle or piece of machinery, or working within proximity of a downed power line.
To keep your jobsite safe during adverse winter weather, OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) have winter guidelines set in place to keep employers and their employees safe on the job.
Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls
Ice and snow present an increased risk of slips, trips, and falls – regardless of the job site. OSHA urges workers to take necessary precautions when walking on treacherous surfaces is unavoidable. These precautions include removing ice and snow from heavy traffic areas as soon as possible, and wearing footwear with the proper insulation and traction for winter conditions.
Extra precautions must also be taken when workers are removing snow from elevated surfaces, like rooftops for example. Employees must receive OSHA safety training for fall protection, make sure that ladders are clear of ice and snow, and use the utmost cautions when working near power lines. Spreading a deicer and avoiding overexposure to frigid temperature is always recommended when clearing any area of snow and ice.
Practicing Safe Winter Driving
It’s a well known fact that ice, snow, and winter winds can create dangerous road conditions. These conditions also make it harder for drivers to handle their vehicles when road conditions are bad.
One of the most important precautions any business can take to ensure safe winter driving for their employees is to train workers to inspect the vehicle prior to operation. Components of the vehicle that must be examined prior to operation include:
Hazardous road conditions as a result of winter weather also increase the risk of workers being stranded in the vehicle. Every vehicle must be equipped with an emergency kit in case this should occur. OSHA recommends including items like a two-way radio or back up cell phone, blankets, flashlight, emergency flares, tow chains, snow removal equipment, nonperishable food items, water, and more.
Beating Cold Stress
Cold stress is a term that refers to the effects freezing temperatures, wind chill, and wetness or dampness have on the body, and is a serious risk for workers during winter. Cold stress happens when the body loses heat and is unable to warm back up, resulting in injuries and illnesses like trench foot, hypothermia, and frostbite.
Employees must be trained on how to recognize the conditions that can cause cold stress, and what to do if cold stress develops. Some of the easiest and most simple precautions workers can take are wearing weather appropriate clothing, drinking warm, sweet, alcohol-free beverages, and taking frequent breaks in dry, warm areas. Employers should also monitor the physical condition of their employees, provide space heaters where possible, and urge employees to work in pairs.
Furthering Your Knowledge
The saying “knowledge is power” has been around a long time for a reason. The best defense against winter weather job site hazards is the knowledge of how to handle them. Workplace Safety Training is ideal to prepare employers and their employees to work safely during the winter months.
Impact Safety is a comprehensive safety source for businesses in all industries and fields looking to reduce risk, protect assets, and create a safe, compliant work environment. Through our hands-on training, consulting, and confined space standby consultation, we provide our clients with the most extensive safety services the market offers. All of our employees spend time in the field, not just a training room. Every member on our team has the experience to deliver real-world applicable material that will take your on-going safety program to the next level. Contact us today for winter weather Workplace Safety Training.