In mid-November, you may not be too concerned with the workplace injury risks that accompany winter weather. But with many parts of the country already experiencing sub-freezing temperatures overnight, it's not too early to start exploring your unique vulnerabilities and weaknesses when it comes to these potential hazards.
The following are perfect examples of ways you can more proactively keep your manufacturing workers safe while they're on the job this winter:
1) Clear up ice and snow any time it's spotted
Much like any other hazards that crop up in your factory throughout the year, employees should be encouraged to report any accumulated snow or icy spots on your facility's grounds, according to EHS Today. That way, someone can be dispatched to lay down rock salt or shovel away problem areas in short order, so the risk is diminished for everyone else at the company.
2) Keep the loading dock warm
Even during the winter months, you may have to keep your loading bay doors open for hours at a time, exposing those workers to frigid temperatures throughout the day, EHS Today advised. For that reason, you need to either change policies so they can stay inside when there's not a shipment to deal with, or install space heaters that help keep them warm as they go about their everyday tasks. It's also important to make sure those workers are getting properly hydrated; even if the weather is cold, their bodies are still processing a lot of water.
3) Attend to walkways more often
While slipping and tripping in winter conditions is a problem everywhere, it is obviously going to be more prevalent on designated walkways, both indoors and outdoors, according to The Safety Services Company. For that reason, don't wait for problems to be spotted. Instead, assign someone to put down salt and sand (or kitty litter) on a fairly regular basis. Spreading it once per day, or every two days, is usually a good way to get out in front of this problem.
4) Make sure employees stretch before any strenuous outdoor activity
In cold weather especially, injuries from over-exertion can be a real risk, so any workers you have who are exposed to colder conditions throughout the day should be fully "warmed up" before they take on a physical task, The Safety Services Company cautioned. Even a few minutes of stretching can help to significantly reduce injury risk and keep your workforce in good shape for the holiday season and beyond.
5) Don't let water into the building
Running and standing water are a threat to both worker safety and building integrity, so if you have any areas where meltwater collects, or where drips and leaks are common, work to address them now, according to MSC Direct. Simply put, you don't want any puddles on your factory floor or collecting in your parking lot, so whatever you can do to avoid that issue will be a good step toward workplace safety.