By Rick Pedley
Winterize Your Worksite
Winter weather can impact job outcomes and worker safety. PK Safety has tips on how to winterize your workers and worksite for safety and productivity.
When you have no choice but to work outside, it’s important to stay safe. Winter weather brings a lot of new hazards to everyday jobs and large-scale operations alike — frostbite, slips and falls, hypothermia, dehydration, cold stress, and snow blindness are some of the injuries outdoor winter workers are prone to. Prevent cold weather-related injuries by taking steps to ensure that your workplace is as winterized as possible.
Gear Up in Wintertime PPE
You need to assess your winter workwear needs before anyone on your team steps outside. Everyone should have access to proper gear in different sizes and styles — larger sizes come in handy for layering. Workers should be given time to adjust to changes and inspect their gear for damage, leaks, or exposed areas before starting their shift. Winter PPE should be warm and waterproof to protect against the cold and wet conditions the season brings (and moisture-wicking if possible, as workers might work up a sweat). Everyone should have gloves, boots, hats, and insulation (multiple layers where possible). Cold weather gloves should have a strong grip and enough dexterity to allow workers to handle and properly use their tools. Winter boots with thick tread patterns are better at maintaining stability and control on slippery ground.
Increase Visibility — See and Be Seen
Not only does the sunset earlier in winter, but winter storms can appear at nearly any time. Decreased visibility is just another way that winter weather can be dangerous. Making your team visible in dark and snowy conditions is one of the best ways to keep everyone safe. Invest in high-visibility clothing and outerwear or at least add visibility tags to your existing gear. If you’re working at night, add extra lighting around the worksite. If you don’t already use eye protection, sunglasses and safety goggles can block glare from snow, especially when it’s sunny.
Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents
Wet and icy conditions mean an increased risk of slip and fall accidents. Every worksite is unique, and winter conditions can change overnight as well as throughout the day. Allow for time to inspect and react to conditions before shifts start and as issues change or reappear, especially in new worksites. Put up signs to alert workers of potential hazards or problem areas so they can watch their steps and be prepared. Shovel walkways, entryways, sidewalks, and other areas people will be walking on. Use salt to break up snow and ice, and be especially careful of black ice, which can blend in with the rest of the environment.
Prepare for Accidents
No matter how much you prepare, accidents can still happen. Keep emergency first aid supplies close by. Encourage everyone to take frequent breaks and stay hydrated throughout the day. Make sure that everyone on your team is trained and taking steps to stay warm, hydrated, and safe. Keeping a project going and reducing weather-related injuries is a team effort.
Author Bio: Rick Pedley, PK Safety’s President and CEO, joined the family business in 1979. PK Safety, a supplier of occupational safety and personal protective equipment and manufacturer of their own new FR line Grit, has been operating since 1947 and takes OSHA, ANSI, PPE, and CSA work safety equipment seriously. PK Safety’s customer service can be reached at 800-829-9580 or online at https://pksafety.com/contact-us.
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