Winter Safety: Protecting Your Workforce from Cold-Weather Risks

As November arrives, we see the shift from autumn to winter, bringing back cold weather and the associated risk of cold weather injuries. To fully savor the upcoming winter season, let’s delve into some winter safety guidelines. Recognizing potential winter safety hazards and implementing measures to ensure everyone’s well-being during this season is paramount.

Educate your employees with knowledge about potential risks within your organization, along with the corresponding safety measures and protocols. It’s vital to have a comprehensive strategy for dealing with winter conditions in your workplace. This includes having a well-defined plan for snow and ice removal through the application of de-icing materials, as well as establishing a clear communication procedure for employees to report icy walkways or parking lots.

For employees who are working outdoors, establish proper training and use of cold weather PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Be sure to schedule frequent breaks to allow employees to warm up when working outdoors.

Tips for Safe Driving

Driving during the winter season demands heightened caution and preparedness. To navigate the challenges that come with cold, icy roads and inclement weather, consider the following key tips:

  • Reduce Speed and Increase Following Distance: When driving in winter conditions, it’s crucial to slow down and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. This extended following distance allows for better reaction time and minimizes the risk of accidents.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Ensure that your vehicle is in optimal working condition. Regularly check your brakes, tires, lights, and heating system. Proper maintenance can prevent breakdowns and improve your safety on the road.
  • Weather-Ready Planning: Prioritize planning your trips with the weather in mind. Stay informed about the weather forecast and road conditions for your route. Adjust your travel schedule if necessary to avoid hazardous conditions.
  • Fuel Management: During winter, it’s advisable to keep your vehicle’s fuel tank at least half full. A fuller tank not only prevents fuel line freeze-ups but also ensures you have ample fuel in case of unexpected delays or emergencies.
  • Cold Weather Kit: Assemble a cold weather kit, especially for employees who may need to drive in harsh winter conditions. This kit should include essentials like warm clothing, blankets, non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, first-aid supplies, and any specific items required for extreme cold weather survival. Be prepared to use this kit in case you become stranded or face extended delays during your journey.

Your Responsibility as an Employer

While there is no OSHA standard for cold-weather safety, protecting your employees from cold-weather harm is an aspect of your duty of care. Implement procedures and safety initiatives to protect your team from cold-weather injuries and illnesses, including hypothermia, fall hazards, frostbite, and colds or the flu.

Guiding questions to consider:

  1. Who is most at risk of cold-weather injuries or illness?
  2. What are the signs of hypothermia and frostbite?
  3. What is the communication plan for extreme cold or winter weather events?
  4. What resources can you provide to employees working outside in cold weather?
  5. What hazards exist on the job site that could result in slips, trips, and falls, and how do winter conditions exacerbate these hazards?

Reach out to an Advisor

By implementing comprehensive procedures, safety initiatives, and cold-weather guidelines, you can significantly reduce the risks of cold-weather injuries and illnesses. Reach out to an RCM&D advisor today to help establish safe workplace protocols this winter.