Not every business or service has the option of issuing a snow day for winter weather. Employees will continue to work, and customers will continue to visit through cold temperatures, snowy skies, and blowing winds. It’s up to employers to keep everyone safe from winter accidents, injuries, and even death. According to the National Safety Council, there were 4.5 million preventable work-related injuries requiring medical attention in 2017. Work injury costs that year were estimated at more than $161 billion. (Source: NSC.org)
Be prepared for the unpredictable nature of winter weather. There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of preventable injuries. It will keep your employees safe and your costs down.
Avoid Slips and Falls
Slips and falls are a 100% avoidable work injury. Employers should clear all outdoor walking surfaces of snow and ice. Make sure to use a deicer, as well, to keep the surfaces from refreezing. Parking lots and sidewalks should be cleared as soon as possible to prevent a fall.
Don’t forget to keep the inside floors safe, too. Keep rugs near doorways to prevent slippage. Use fans to dry sopping wet floors or change rugs as needed. Be aware of any salt mixture that gets tracked inside, which may make hard surfaces slick.
Be Prepared for Winter Weather
Employees should also prepare themselves for hazardous conditions. Wear boots or other footwear with good treads when walking in snow or ice is unavoidable. Go slow and dry off your shoes upon entering the building. Avoid dangerous wind chills by wearing heavy coats and keeping skin covered with hats, scarves, and mittens. Even a short walk from the car into work can lead to frostbite in extremely low temperatures.
When driving to work give yourself extra time to navigate your commute. Slick road conditions will create slower traffic and an increased risk of vehicle collisions. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in the event you become stranded. The national Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends the following: cellphone or two-way radio, windshield ice scraper, snow brush, flashlight with extra batteries, shovel, tow chain, traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter), emergency flares, jumper cables, snacks, water, road maps, and blankets or a change of clothes. (Source OSHA.gov)
Stay Safe When Working Outdoors
Keep close attention to yourself and your colleagues if you work outdoors during the winter months. Knowing what to look for can improve safety for your entire team. Trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia are the three main areas of cold weather concern. Dress for the weather by using layers of loose-fitted clothing. Insulated gloves and waterproof boots will help keep your skin dry, which is important for preventing heat loss. Keep extra clothing on hand if yours becomes too wet.
If possible, try to do outdoor work during the warmest part of the day. It’s best to acclimate yourself to the cold weather a little at a time. Take frequent breaks in warm areas and use that time to dry any damp clothing. Drink warm beverages to help fight off the cold, but avoid alcohol.
Call The James Law Firm
Winter weather accidents can be preventable, but they are not always avoidable. The James Law Firm has the experience, compassion, and knowledge needed to tackle even the most complex winter injury accidents. If you have been injured anywhere in Iowa, don’t hesitate to call us today at 515-246-8484. We represent clients in Des Moines, Davenport/Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Sioux City, Council Bluffs, and more. We will travel to help you!