When winter weather arrives, your company's obligation is to make sure both its property and employees are as safe as possible. That may sometimes be more easily said than done, especially if you're also trying to complete work when hazardous conditions crop up, but having the right plan in place is an absolute must for any adverse weather.
What do proper efforts look like? It can depend a lot on the kind of work you do and where you are located, but as a general rule, the following steps will be advisable:
1) Pack all company vehicles with emergency supplies
If you have employees out making delivery runs or picking up materials in company-owned vehicles, it's important to make sure those trucks or vans are well provisioned, according to Advanced Consulting and Training. Winter emergency kits should include tools, food and water, blankets and so on, and drivers should be given instructions to pull over if conditions get particularly dangerous.
2) Make sure you keep tabs on all employees
When bad weather hits, many workers may be in the midst of doing their jobs, and they'll all need to be checked on to ensure they're safe, Advanced Consulting and Training added. Something as simple as a buddy system — where one employee checks on another who checks on another, and the like — can help ensure this kind of attentiveness is cooked into your organizational structure, and no one is overlooked.
3) Keep walkways and parking lots clear
One of the most basic risks workers face when winter weather arrives (or even after it's over) is slip-and-fall hazards around your facility, according to Occupational Health & Safety. Even if you just put down sand and rock salt, shovel or plow walkways and parking lots, that will significantly reduce this risk and avoid major problems.
4) Don't let workers stay outside for too long
Many of your employees — particularly those who work on the loading dock — may be asked to spend time exposed to winter weather conditions over the next few months, and they need to be properly protected, Occupational Health & Safety advised. Gloves, hats and warm coats will all help keep them safe and comfortable, but you should also mandate that they rotate out of exposure every once in a while.
5) Provide the necessary gear
As with anything else in your facility, you shouldn't count on your workers to bring their own safety gear for winter weather, according to Reliable Plant. Provide it for them and make sure you are staying on top of inspecting it regularly, so any amount of risk is kept to a minimum while they're on the clock.
6) Train for proper actions
Finally, just as you train for many other safety issues, it's a good idea to make sure your workers are fully aware of best practices in any kind of winter conditions, Reliable Plant recommended. A simple training or informational session can help reinforce all the right behaviors and set your whole team up for success.