Wisconsin and Minnesota businesses will already know that the winter brings cold and severe weather, but there are always some winter safety tips that business owners and team members can brush up on.
At Earth Development, we believe in providing reliable and effective snow removal and ice management services for businesses in the region, but we also believe in providing cold weather safety advice. We know that the harsh winter weather poses a threat to your business, employees, and customers, and we’re here to help you mitigate these problems.
Most Common Cold Weather Hazards
In 2017 there were 20,460 ice, sleet and snow-related injuries in the United States. Common injuries were due to:
- Falls, slips, or trips
- Overexertion and bodily reaction
- Transportation incidents
But, there are many other hazards to watch out for. These include:
- Flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses
- Road closures
- Frostbite and hypothermia
- Power outages
It sounds extreme, but these are things anyone can be affected by during extreme winter weather.
Winter Safety Tips for Your Employees
Okay, so we know the hazards – but how can you avoid them? Let’s take a look at some of the top winter safety tips for employees.
Prevent Slips and Falls
The Osha cold weather guidelines are a great resource if you’re looking to find out more about how to prevent slips and falls. It contains valuable information about what is expected of you as an employer and facility manager and helps you ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep people safe this winter.
Some of the best advice we can offer for when the winter season comes around is as follows:
- Use sensible footwear that increases traction
- Avoid carrying heavy loads while out in the snow or walking on ice
- Keep your walkways and work areas clear at all times
- If you can’t clear an area, mark it as hazardous and ensure nobody goes there
- Remove all hazards you can from the sidewalks, especially hazards that may be hard to see after snowfall
Plan For Power Outages
Power outages are a common occurrence when there is heavy snow or strong winds. If there is a winter storm warning, plan to prepare for a power outage. If you’re in a large commercial building, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re immune. In the midst of a bad winter storm, these outages can cripple operations. You need a solid plan for what to do when an outage occurs. This includes what actions employees should take and a tight strategy for your communications. Consider creating a safety training program for your employees. Additionally, a power outage will cause your technology and some utilities to fail. If you have the means, invest in a backup power generator to keep the building utilities running. It is also wise to invest in surge protectors to ensure your devices avoid any electrical damage. Finally, regularly backing up your data is important in the instance of a power outage. Remind your employees to do so on a regular basis as a precaution in case a winter storm hits.
While you can’t always predict the severity of a winter storm, keep employees are to date. Take measures to ensure employees are aware of pending weather. Your leadership team needs to discuss a plan of action when there is a weather advisory. Then, they must communicate that plan to all employees. If a blizzard is going to hit overnight, consider giving employees the option to work from home. Or if there are certain road closures happening during the day, send out an email with these details. These proactive efforts will play a key role in winter workplace safety.
Battle The Winter Sickness
One threat to your office space that you can’t ignore is the rise in illness during the winter months. Working in winter conditions affects the immune system, and the CDC also reports that flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The rise in illness often occurs in October and November with a peak time in December and February. Arrange for a healthcare provider to provide flu shots for employees in the office. By making it convenient you’re likely to have an increased number of employees with an influenza vaccine. Additionally, remind employees to stay home if they are sick. Your leadership team needs to set the example of following this rule. That way, other employees do not feel guilty if they request a sick day.
Equip Employees For Winter Workplace Safety
You can only do so much to keep your employees safe, especially once they are off the company premises. But their individual preparedness is key to them staying safe in the cold. Encourage employees to take their own measures for winter workplace safety such as:
- Winter emergency kit in their car
- Recent vehicle tune-up
- Ensuring their mobile device stays charged
- Proper dress for the weather
As a business, you can also send our winter driving tips and reminders to check road conditions.
Inspect Facilities and Worksites
As a business owner or a facility manager, it’s your job to inspect your facilities and ensure they are up-to-scratch. You’re also responsible for preparing for cold weather and making sure that your employees have a safe place to work when the weather turns.
Some good tips for you to follow include:
- Inspecting roofs, plumbing, and pipes for damage or weakness
- Keeping your walkways clear and well-lit
- Maintaining a good supply of de-icing products or having a reliable snow contractor
- Encouraging your employees to wear warm clothes and slip-resistant shoes and boots
Highlight Hazards Using Visuals
As we briefly alluded to earlier, it’s always important to highlight any potential hazards using signs and noticeable warnings. Whether it’s a crack in the pavement, a boulder, or any other item that may be covered by snow, you should ensure that there are visual cues so that people know the hazard is in the way.
- Consider using glow-in-the-dark or reflective tape where possible
- Use sand to increase traction
- Use outdoor signage and barricades
- Alert your employees to any potential hazards ahead of time
Hire a Reliable Snow Removal Contractor
Our local teams of professionals throughout the Midwest are ready to help you keep employees and customers safe this winter, and we’re only a phone call away.
So what are you waiting for? Contact our team for a full consultation today!