The cold season is definitely in full gear now with plenty of big chills and icy winds. Along with the cold, your employees will be facing the usual seasonal threats: colds, flu, and other forms of communicable illness, danger from slick floors and pavements, frostbite, on-site traffic accidents, and general seasonal malaise. You can’t prevent every hazard with perfect certainty, but the following strategies can help slow the coming tide of illness, injury, and lost workdays.
- Keep in mind that the cold isn’t the only problemSometimes the steps we take to keep the cold out actually increase a host of other hazards, so as you ward off one, watch out for the others. Closing the dock doors, for example, will keep the interior environment warm, but may also increase the risk of trapped fumes. Think carefully before sending an employee up a ladder to close a window or clear snow loads from a roof.
- Hold an annual training session on germ controlYou may have held a session last year, but that was last year. It’s time for another group meeting to remind your employees about basic workplace germ management. Encourage them to cough and sneeze into the crook of the arm (not the hand) and urge frequent hand washing, as well as the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, made widely available throughout the workplace.
- Discourage heroismWhen employees are sick, send them home. No excuses, no delays. Too many employees believe that showing up for work and powering through the day will score extra points with management and impress co-workers. Make sure your workplace culture doesn’t cultivate this attitude.
- Encourage reportingDon’t let major or minor incidents go undocumented and unreported. Even a minor slip and fall injury should be addressed and recorded.
- Complete daily safety inspections of equipment and work areasIndicator lights, brakes, seatbelts, batteries and fuel canisters should be checked before use in cold weather. Indoor floors and traffic surfaces may not experience problems, but outdoor surfaces can become very dangerous at this time of year.
- Provide and maintain appropriate protective gearThis includes coveralls, heavy gloves, face masks and anything else your employees will need to cover exposed skin without compromising vision, hearing, or dexterity.
For more on how to keep your winter workplace safe, healthy and productive, contact the lifting and safety experts at Liftow.