It’s that time of year again. The days are shortening, temperatures are dropping, and snow is knocking at the door in many parts of the country. While many employees are now working from home, others must still find their way into the workplace this winter season.
In this blog post, we’ll share steps you can take to ensure your workplace is safe from the hazards of winter weather at your workplace. Whether your employees are working from home, in the office, or on the road, taking these safety precautions this winter will prevent some hazards from catching you off-guard.
Common Cold Weather Hazards
According to OSHA’s winter safety precautions, there are a variety of weather-related hazards that employees may be exposed to during winter. Fortunately, since the risks associated with winter weather can typically be foreseen, there are steps you can take now to mitigate or even eliminate the impact of these risks on your employees and your business.
If you live in a snowy area, here are a few things that you should be mindful of during winter months in and around your workspace:
- Unsecured floor mats that can easily trip people
- Wet mats and/or floors in entrances greatly increase the chances of slipping
- Ice and snow on sidewalks
- Snow-covered curbs make it hard to see where to walk, which in turn can lead to a misstep
- Snow between cars can easily become compacted and icy
Thankfully, the list above provides opportunities for preventative measures you can take to help keep your workers safe. Continue reading to find a few steps that can help prevent hazards in the workplace during winter months.
Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice
The risk of slipping, tripping, and falling increases dramatically during winter months. It is easy to get in a rush while running into your office building to get out of the cold as quickly as possible. With the snow and ice creating a slippery surface, that quick walk from your car to the front door of your building can be potentially dangerous if the right precautions are not taken.
Ice melt salt is key to melting any ice that may have built up overnight. Most ice melts are blends of the same ingredients: sodium chloride, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride. These ingredients help to melt ice down into a slushy consistency, which is easier to then shovel away and create an ice-free path. Be proactive, and stock up on your ice melt salt before the winter months hit. Buying in bulk will be beneficial this season, and it will keep you from worrying about potentially running out half way through the winter months.
Here is how to effectively use ice melt salt:
- Try mixing your salt with sand to help create more traction
- Use a thin hand when applying the salt, but be sure to apply it before the snow storm and then another layer during the snow storm
- Scoop up or shovel away the salt once the ice melts
Once your work parking lot is free of ice hazards, go over a few preventative steps with your employees and coworkers on how to prevent slipping in icy conditions on the walk from their vehicle to the office building.
How to safely get from your car to the building without slipping and falling:
- Do the penguin shuffle: Focus on your footing, walk flat-footed, take short steps to keep your center of balance over your feet. Take it slow.
- Carry only what you can: This decreases your chance of falling — and keeps your hands free if you do.
- Don't be distracted: Put your cell phone away while walking and focus on each step you take
Best Ways to Prevent Injuries Inside the Workplace During Winter
Now that we have covered best practices for preventing injuries outside of the work building, let’s go over how to keep our workers safe once they get inside the building. The fall-risk can still be high even though you have walked through your office’s building doors in the winter months. At this time of year, snow and ice will quickly turn into puddles once it is carried inside. Taking the time to spot check for hazards in the workplace during this season will be worth the effort if it means preventing any future injuries.
To ensure optimal safety indoors during the winter, try this:
- Keep floor mats by every door. Entrance mats are a common line of defense for collecting some dirt, rain and snow as employees enter the building. This will also ensure that there is some level of traction once you enter the building. Be mindful of overly saturated mats. Saturated mats need to be replaced so that they do not add to the slip hazard by giving people a false impression that the area is safe. It’s a good idea to have a second and possibly a third set of dry mats that can be rotated into service when the weather is bad.
- Keep a mop on hand. Once your workers walk through the threshold, the ice may not all end up on the door mats. And if your space is not fully carpeted, you will need a mop to prevent any puddles building up from leftover snow or ice being brought inside.
- Invest in a quality vacuum. Once the ice is dried up, debris can be found all over the floors. Whether it is dirt or ice melt salt being tracked in the building - a quality vacuum will keep your work space clean and debris free.
- Wet Floor Signs. It may seem straight forward, but a simple wet-floor sign being near the building entrance can make a world of difference in preventing an injury due to slipping and falling.
This winter, don’t wait till the snow starts flying to review winter safety plans, remind employees of cold weather hazards or ensure the tools and equipment that will be needed are stocked and ready for use. Take action before the peak of the winter season, and be thorough about your preventative measures.
Even if you have lived in the colder part of the country for long periods of time, it is important to still be mindful of the potential dangers that snow and ice can bring. Show your workplace a little TLC before the winter season begins, and rest assured knowing that you did your best to provide safe environments for you and your workers as they go into their work days this season.
Elevate Marketplace is here to help you keep you and your work family safe in these winter months. We can supply you with a few staples items and supplies that will prevent hazards that accompany these colder months. Stock up on your favorite office supplies and cleaning products this season by shopping in bulk. Interested in learning more about online bulk shopping for your must- have products for your office space? Learn more here.