Winter is just around the corner, and temperatures are already starting to drop. As someone who works outside in the elements, now is a good time to talk about how you can stay safe as the weather declines.
There are all kinds of winter weather hazards that employees should know about. Some that you may come across in safety training include:
- Trench foot
- Respiratory inflammation
These and other cold-weather injuries could lead to medical emergencies on the job as well as short- or long-term complications for the victim.
How can you better manage the risk of cold-stress injuries on the job?
Cold stress injuries occur most often when workers don’t realize the risks. The priority for any employer is to train workers on the signs of these stress-related illnesses and to talk about when the weather is too cold or dangerous to work in.
Safety training should also go over when to take breaks, how to get warm and what to do in the case of a worker showing signs of an injury or illness such as respiratory problems or hypothermia.
In most outdoor workplaces, it’s beneficial to have:
- Specific warm-weather clothing and gear designed for the job
- At least one or two places where you can warm up during the day, such as a warm vehicle’s cab or an office
- Warm drinks and food for break times, which help keep energy levels up while warming the body
Remember that your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees. If you or other workers feel that you are in danger or need additional items to stay safe on the job, you should discuss this with your employer immediately. Some additional steps your employer may take include:
- Encouraging slip-resistant footwear
- Posting warnings and signs in hazardous areas
- Shoveling and plowing workplace sidewalks and steps
- Providing adequate lighting
With good training and the right safety precautions, it is possible to get through winter workdays safely. If you or someone else are showing signs of cold stress, make sure you call for help as soon as possible. Workers’ compensation may help cover the cost of medical care and lost wages under certain circumstances.