Winter Workplace Safety

Workplace safety should be a top priority for employers in every season, but with the cold temperatures, winter brings some unique environmental hazards that could lead to unfortunate workplace accidents. Here are some tips to help keep your workplace safe this winter.

Avoiding Slips and Falls

Slips and falls are a concern any time of the year, but especially during winter months. To reduce the risk of slip-and-fall injuries, keep hallways and stairs clear of any hazards such as water, snow or ice. Make sure that each entrance to your building is equipped with a doormat for employees to wipe their feet when entering - this will reduce the amount of water that is brought in from outside.

Outside, parking lots and sidewalks should be properly maintained and prepared for winter weather. Ice melt can be applied to surfaces to help keep ice from forming.

Clearly mark any hazardous areas, inside or outside, using appropriate signage to warn pedestrians and employees of present dangers.

Outside Workers

For any employees working outdoors during the winter months, it is critical to dress properly by wearing warm clothing and covering exposed skin. You should also plan to work during the warmest part of the day and take frequent breaks in a warm, dry environment.

Company Vehicles and Facilities

Any company vehicles should be routinely inspected to make sure everything is in good working condition. Ensure that tires have proper tread and adequate pressure - this will help reduce risks when driving on slippery roadways.

If you experience a winter storm, you should immediately inspect your utility lines and report any damages to your service provider. This includes power lines, gas lines and water pipes. Ignoring these items can cause serious and costly hazards to develop.

The 3 C's ... Care, Caution and Communication

To help keep your workplace safe this season, remember the three C's:

Employers should take care of their employees by ensuring all company facilities and property are properly prepared for winter weather and that any hazards are dealt with in a timely and proper manner.

Employees should use caution when using sidewalks, hallways and stairwells to avoid slip-and-fall accidents.

Everyone should use promptcommunication when there is a hazard or issue requiring attention. Employees should report anything they notice that is out of place or unusual and employers should clearly communicate any issues or contingencies that arise due to winter weather.

Mike Brown is the Workers' Compensation Practice Group Leader at Crumley Roberts. He is a Board Certified Workers' Compensation Specialist by the NC State Bar and is the author of The Workers’ Compensation Playbook, An Employee's Guide to Understanding Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina.

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