Soon, winter will be upon us. And that means taking some extra precautions to avoid weather-related risks. Snow, ice, and cold can be a safety issue for your workers and your customers. Slips and falls may lead to sprains, breaks, and even life-threatening injuries. But there are things you can do to help minimize the risks.
Reduce the risk at your workplace
Once the snow starts to fall, it can pile up quickly. Ice also becomes a concern. Clearing it from your business becomes a priority. Be sure your parking lot, sidewalks, and other places where people travel are free of snow and ice. Keep an eye on the forecast. If it looks like a storm is on the way, consider putting salt down the night before. If you have a large area to clear or a heavy snow is expected, a snow removal service may be a good choice.
Once everything is clear, be sure to pay attention to areas where there’s melting and drainage across walkways. The cold temperatures could re-freeze it and create a slipping hazard.
Inside your business, take other precautions. Sloppy conditions outside can easily be tracked inside. OSHA recommends setting up hazard signs to warn of wet or slippery floors. Absorbent carpets and mats near entrances are also a good way to keep floors safe.
Reduce the risk for your workers
It’s not just snow and ice that you need to be concerned about, extreme winter cold is also a danger. If your workers spend any time outdoors, you’ll want to make sure they’re prepared and equipped to handle sub-zero temperatures. To help, OSHA recommends:
- Training: Help your workers recognize weather related hazards such as frostbite and hypothermia. Teach them the signs of cold stress injuries like uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, fatigue, and loss of physical control.
- Safe work practices: Check the forecast regularly for temperatures and wind-chill levels. Try to schedule outdoor work for the times when the weather is the warmest. Also provide additional rest periods so workers can avoid overexertion and warm themselves. Consider providing warm beverages to help your employees bring their body temperatures back up.
- Protective gear and equipment: Make your employees aware of how to dress for cold weather. Gloves, hats, and heavy coats are important for proper protection. Recommend insulated and water-resistant snow boots for warmth and better traction. Have a heat source, like a radiant heater, or a warm area available for workers who have to spend long amounts of time outdoors.
By taking these precautions, you’ll help keep your employees and customers safe during the winter months. For more information about protecting your property from other safety risks, talk to your Hortica agent.
Learn more about safety preparation for your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.