Winter has arrived, and with that comes the sweet voices of our pint-sized loved ones requesting that the stockings get hung, and Christmas lights go up! It’s a time when crackling fireplaces warm the home from those frigid winter conditions, and people often getting to spend more time on the home front due to exterior conditions being unsafe for those who work outdoors. Winter may be a time where you can relax more frequently with the family but be diligent not to let your focus down on the job site. Presco would like to take a moment to discuss some important safety measures you should be taking during this icy and hazardous time of year.
In many parts of the country, there are not only federal laws in place, but state laws which protect workers from winter weather hazards. As an employer, it is imperative to offer proper protection to your employees to keep them safe from the many unique dangers that they face while working in winter weather.
SLIPS, TRIPS and FALLS
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Fatal work injuries from falls, slips, or trips continued a general upward trend that began in 2011, increasing 6 percent to 849 in 2016 and 25 percent overall since 2011. Falls increased more than 25 percent in 2016 for roofers, carpenters, tree trimmers and pruners, and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers”.
- Employers should be proactive and implement a safety plan which addresses slips, trips and falls as well as the dangers of snow or ice and how to minimize such accidents.
- De-icing and snow removal from walkways, parking areas, stairs and outside break areas are vital to keeping employees safe from slips, trips, and falls.
- Employers should provide employees with proper footwear with heavy treads and other proper winter safety gear. Although this is not a specific requirement from OSHA, many employers will offer their workers winter weather gear.
- Train employees to recognize potential hazards on the job site, such as slippery roads and surfaces, downed electrical lines and how to use their personal protective equipment effectively
- Mark any area that may cause injury with proper safety marking products, such as barricade tapes, cones, aisle marking tapes and temporary signs. Many of these items can be found at your local Presco distributor location.
Cold stress is the equivalent term for illnesses such as hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot. If you or an employee of yours is exposed to the cold weather for long periods of time, it is very probable that cold stress could develop and turn into an expensive hospital trip if not treated immediately. OSHA clearly outlines the definition of cold stress as well as how to recognize and treat the symptoms in its guidelines here. Additionally, employers should be especially diligent in following these simple tips:
- Train employees on the signs and symptoms of cold stress.
- Employers should monitor the physical condition of their workers regularly when cold stress is a potential threat.
- Employees should be dressed appropriately; knit masks, insulated gloves, and footwear, etc
- Schedule more frequent “short” breaks so employees can come in from the cold conditions.
- Provide employees with warm beverages to help them maintain proper body temperature.
As the nation’s leader in safety marking products, Presco wants to ensure that all necessary precautions are being taken this winter season. If you are looking for more ways to avoid expensive worker’s compensation claims and other legal ramifications, reach out to a Presco Account Executive today and find out how we can assist you in all of your safety endeavors.