When it comes to workplace safety, OSHA has a lot of requirements in place to help mitigate risks like having the proper safety gear, equipment guards, etc. But what about the not-so obvious, everyday risks? While OSHA may be “king” when it comes to establishing potential risks, we can’t forget about what Mother Nature may have to offer.
Different times of year can pose different risks to the safety of your staff. Here we’ll outline the top three most common safety threats to expect during the winter.
1. Icy Surfaces
This one’s a given. In Wisconsin, it snows. Sometimes, it sleets. Regardless, Mother Nature somehow always seems to turn the white stuff into ice on the sidewalks, driveways, roads, parking lots – really any place we walk or drive. That means the risk of slips, falls, and vehicle accidents is at a peak and you need to have proper safety protocols in place to combat the (seemingly) inevitable. Some examples:
- Make sure to promptly and regularly spread ice melt on sidewalks your staff (or customers!) use throughout the day.
- Share safe driving practices with your staff with an emphasis to take extra caution during the winter.
- Ensure company vehicles have proper tires for winter.
2. Frigid Temperatures
In the manufacturing and agricultural industries, a lot of work may need to be done outdoors and, in the winter, the temperatures can drop to dangerous degrees. Frostbite and hypothermia should be big concerns for you if you staff must accomplish tasks outdoors during this time. Here are a few key ways to help your staff combat the cold:
- Make sure all staff members have access to warm coats, gloves, hats, etc.
- Build in mandatory breaks indoors throughout the day to warm up.
- Reallocate any outdoor work hours to indoors if possible, when the temps drop too low.
3. Cold & Flu
When thinking about company safety, the immune systems of your staff is commonly overlooked but can make the biggest impact on your bottom line. Cold and flu season hits its fever pitch (pun intended) during the winter months and keeping your staff healthy is of utmost importance. Help your employees stay healthy by doing a few easy (and relatively inexpensive) things:
- Set up additional hand-sanitizing stations throughout your workplace. Most illnesses are spread through touching something, so keeping those hands clean is paramount.
- Enlist the help of a local pharmacy to hold a flu shot clinic at your workplace. Many will work directly with your employees’ insurance companies for billing, and you can ensure everyone gets their flu shot to “help the herd.”
- If you expect one of your staff is too sick to be at work, make sure they go home. Better to be one person short now than to spread their sickness to others and be 10 people short later.
Now sure – ice, cold, and flu may seem pretty obvious and rather minuscule in the grand scheme of potential hazards at work, but there’s no excuse not to give them the attention they deserve when it comes to your safety practices. Mother Nature will do what she wants, especially in the winter, so we recommend being as prepared as possible, so your staff doesn’t suffer. Here at EHS Management, we can help put additional safety protocols in place should you feel like being proactive.