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Safety Precautions When Working in Winter Weather

We have seen the sight of snow beginning to fall and the temperature dropping. As the cold weather starts creeping in, we are revisiting some great safety precautions and preparation tips for the upcoming winter season from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Whether you are a landscaping business, a contractor, or a construction company, the winter weather does not stop for anyone. Below are 5 great tips to keep in mind as you prepare to work in the winter weather:

1. Know the signs and symptoms of Cold Stress. OSHA doesn’t have a specific standard that covers working in winter conditions, but it is the employer’s duty to protect their workers and recognize hazards which includes cold stress. Cold Stress can occur when anyone is working in a cold environment. “Extreme Cold” can make your body work harder to maintain its temperature. Thus, workers should be trained to know what cold stress illnesses are and know the symptoms. Workers should also know how to prevent these cold stress illnesses and how to treat them if they occur. (Hypothermia, frost bite, and immersion/ trench foot- Learn the signs and symptoms from OSHA Here).

2. Keep workers warm and dry. Provide workers with warm and dry areas whether they are working outdoors or indoors. Make sure workers are aware of slip hazards due to icy conditions or windy weather. Remember to properly de-ice equipment and have on the proper gear for working outdoors. Also, advise workers to have a set of extra clothes on hand in case they get wet in the cold weather.

3. Use safe working practices. The cold weather can cause dehydration just like hot weather. It is important for workers to remain hydrated. Allow frequent breaks for workers in a warm place or shelter as they build up their tolerance toward cold weather. Allow work to be done during warmer times of the day if workers need to be outdoors.

4. Dress properly. Layer up with warm loose clothing that provides better insulation. Different types of clothing material also help keep our bodies warmer i.e. wool, silks, and most synthetics. Remember to cover ears, face, hands, feet in cold weather.

5. Use a buddy system. Assign buddies or partners so there is accountability to make sure everyone is looking out for signs and symptoms of cold stress in their own physical body and their partners.

Businesses can also prepare for the winter conditions by making sure everyone stays safe. Here are some great tips to prevent injuries during the winter weather:

- Shovel and salt sidewalks, steps, and parking lots to melt ice.

- Keep entrances, parking lots, exits, and walking paths well lit.

- Put up signs to alert employees and customers of any wet floor areas.

- Prepare work vehicles for the winter weather such as tires, snow scrapers, windshield wipers, etc. Be sure to have a fully stocked emergency car kit that includes a first aid kit, extra batteries, warm blankets, emergency contact list, and non-perishable food in case of emergencies.

- Update business emergency numbers and contacts and make sure a safety protocol plan is up to date. Make sure to restock first aid supply kits and check that all fire and carbon monoxide alarms are fully functional.

Contact Paroubek Insurance today to learn how we can help you with the right coverages and loss control strategies to keep your business and workers safe in every season.

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