Winter brings not only colder weather, but with it, a new set of problems: slipping hazards from ice and snow, dangerous driving conditions, and risks of hypothermia and frostbite from overexposure. What’s a person to do? Check out our list of five ways to stay safe during this winter season:
- Avoid Falls – Ice and snow are slippery! During winter in Michigan, slips and falls account for one-third of all workers compensation claims. Keep workers safe and workers comp claims low by clearing walkways, and putting down icemelt to remove the stubborn ice that isn’t removable by shoveling alone. Days are shorter in winter; be sure pathways are well-lit.
- Prevent Back Strains – The repetitive motion of shoveling snow is a big culprit in musculoskeletalinjuries. Stretch before getting started and be sure the shovel is ergonomic. Look for a lightweight shovel with long handle. Push snow rather than scoop to avoid straining.
- Circumvent Roof Collapse – Snow is heavy on rooftops as well, but before deciding to clear the roof, know that many hazards abound. Not only is there the risk of falling, but tripping over unseen vents and other objects. Know the roof’s load limit and if in doubt, have it inspected. The drifted snow should be cleared first. Snow should be cleared in the opposite direction of the trusses to avoid further roof stress, and be aware of any people below when removing snow and ice.
- Elude Frostbite and Hypothermia – Dress appropriately and in layers. Wear a hat to prevent heat loss through the head and make sure it covers the ears. Consider a balaclava or scarf to cover the face and mouth. Don’t forget mittens or gloves for hands and water-proof or water-resistant boots for the feet. Coats ideally should be water/wind proof. At the first signs of perspiration, remove a layer, as perspiration can actually promote heat loss.
- Defensive Driving – Getting around on icy roads can be a challenge. Allow enough time to get to a destination and don’t rush. Buckle up and use headlights. Allow plenty of time to stop when approaching intersections. Avoid sudden turns and movements of the wheel. Keep an emergency kit in the vehicle. Don’t abandon the vehicle if stranded due to inclement weather or an accident.
Being prepared and recognizing winter hazards are the keys to success in any organization. For the latest in safety, check out www.myosh.com
By Stacey Wagner