Winter Weather Employee Safety - Best Practices

Winter Weather Employee Safety - Best Practices

January 15, 2024

Winter Workplace Safety: Protocols and Practices

Not only can winter conditions make working uncomfortable, but they can also pose new hazards to employees. Hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration, slips, trips, and injuries from snowblowers or shoveling are all concerns for employees working in inclement weather conditions. Both employers and employees must be aware of these risks to ensure safety.

Winter Weather Protocol Basics:

  • Schedule snow removal before employees arrive, with removal beginning at no more than ½ inch of accumulation.
  • Establish and indicate a path of travel with markers to provide a safe entrance and exit for employees and clients.
  • Stay proactive by performing constant inspections of the entire property to stay ahead of hazards.
  • Maintain a regular snow maintenance routine, ensuring no steps of the protocol are disregarded or sidelined.

Preparing & Preventing Against Cold Illness:

  • Wear protective clothing in layers, including a hat, boots, and gloves, and avoid tight clothing. Unzip jackets when hot.
  • Stay dry to prevent increased heat loss; keep a change of dry clothes available.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of liquids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can cause dehydration.
  • Implement a buddy system to monitor each other for signs of cold stress.
  • Schedule work during warmer hours and take breaks in especially cold weather.
  • Learn more about preparing and preventing against cold illnesses.

Snow Blower Safety Tips:

  • Never start the snowblower indoors to avoid fumes.
  • Wear hearing protection as gas-powered equipment can cause hearing damage.
  • Avoid loose clothing that can get caught in moving parts.
  • Direct the chute away from the surroundings to prevent damage or injuries.
  • Clear the area of any obstructions that could clog or damage the machine.
  • For additional snow blower safety tips, click here.

Tips for Dealing with Clogged Snowblowers:

  • Ensure the engine is off before attempting to clear a clog.
  • Stop the auger and impeller before clearing the clog.
  • Use a clearing tool or stick to remove ice and snow; never insert hands or feet inside the machine.

Shoveling Snow Safety Tips:

  • Start slow and take frequent breaks to avoid exhaustion.
  • Stay hydrated and wear layers.
  • Avoid shoveling after eating or smoking, and know the signs of a heart attack.
  • Warm up and stretch before shoveling.
  • Use an ergonomically designed shovel and lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it, and shovel multiple times to avoid heavy buildup.
  • For additional snow shoveling safety tips, check here.

 To keep your employees safe throughout all seasons, be sure to check out Friedlander Group’s resources concerning heating monitoring when employees are working outdoors, heat illnesses 101: symptoms, first aid and prevention, and preventing an employee injury in winter weather.

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Additional resources: Winter Weather Employee Safety