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Help Workers Stay Safe this Winter

Julie Copeland

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WinterWorker.jpgAs the temperatures in the Northeast have finally dropped to a seasonal low, there’s no telling if this winter will be mild… or treat us to unprecedented storms. Regardless, I’d like to share winter safety reminders to help as the freezing temperatures stay with us.

Cold weather mixed with snow, sleet and ice can play havoc with roads and turn a normal commute into a dangerous undertaking. That’s just getting to and from work. Many workers are challenged by the elements as they perform their jobs. Beyond the cold, winter presents severe conditions for those who work outside.

I share the following information to help protect workers from the cold and other hazards that can cause illnesses, injuries, or fatalities, and maintain a safe work environment and completing tasks successfully.

In many areas of the country, the weather at this time of year can create a variety of hazards that can significantly impact everyday tasks and work activities. These hazards include slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds and environmental cold.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a webpage dedicated to educating workers how to protect themselves during the winter months. You can visit the page here.

The web page includes links to guidance from OSHA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Safety Council.

OSHA shares worker safety tips to help workers avoid:

  • Being struck by falling objects such as icicles, tree limbs, and utility poles
  • Accidents due to slippery roadways
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Dehydration, hypothermia and frostbite
  • Exhaustion from strenuous activity
  • Back injuries or heart attack while removing snow
  • Slips and falls due to slippery walkways
  • Electrocution from downed power lines and downed objects in contact with power lines
  • Burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure
  • Falls from snow removal on roofs or while working in aerial lifts or on ladders
  • Roof collapse under weight of snow (or melting snow if drains are clogged)
  • Lacerations or amputations from unguarded or improperly operated chain saws and power tools, and improperly attempting to clear jams in snow blowers

OSHA also offers the following winter-weather tips for workers and employers:

  • Assume all power lines are energized and stay well clear of any downed or damaged power lines
  • Make certain all powered equipment is properly guarded and disconnected from power sources before cleaning or performing maintenance
  • Use caution around surfaces weighed down by large amounts snow or of ice
  • Scoop small amounts of snow and using proper lifting form to avoid over-exertion or injuries
  • Clear walking surfaces of snow and ice and use salt or its equivalent where appropriate 
  • Employers should provide and ensure the use of fall protection and provide and maintain ladders 
  • Stay in the vehicle – do not leave the vehicle unless help is visible within 100 yards
  • Wear reflective clothing, and eye, face and body protection
  • Establish and clearly marking work zones
  • Use engineering controls, personal protective equipment and safe work practices to reduce the length and severity of exposure to the cold

Regardless if you work outside in in cold weather and are challenged by winter conditions, or you simply have to deal with the occasional winter storm on the way to/from work, we want you to be safe. Stay warm and dry, and protect yourself from the elements. Remember Arbill for your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Safety Training to stay compliant, safe and be most productive. We are here to help with all of your safety needs.  Visit us at www.arbill.com.

Please be especially careful on the roads and have a safe day!


Topics: Cold Stress/Winter Weather Safety

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