Sent to us by Joel Joshi

Now that the calendar has turned to autumn, the countdown to winter has officially begun. As winter weather can be both severe and unpredictable, anyone who is exposed to the elements, whether to, from or in the workplace should maintain a high level of awareness and preparedness. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as the mercury starts to drop.

Know the Forecast, Be Prepared

It may seem self-explanatory, but knowing the weather is the easiest way to protect yourself from a cold, uncomfortable and potentially dangerous day on the jobsite.

Know the weather report before leaving home and plan accordingly. Try to dress in breathable, moisture wicking layers in order to conserve heat while allowing flexibility if the temperature should rise, with the outer layer being water/wind resistant.

If possible, try to balance warmth and dexterity, particularly if your job is hands-on. Protect your extremities: the head, hands and feet should be covered to avoid heat loss when the temperature dips. Although fingers stay warmer when in contact with one another in mittens, they are more cumbersome.  No matter what your role may be, ensure that the winter clothing you’ve chosen won’t compromise the equipment you need for your job.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is less easily apparent in the winter – but it’s just as dangerous of a threat! As the temperature falls, the level of physical exertion may not and water loss through sweat becomes easier to overlook. Don’t let this go unnoticed; doing so could lead to exhaustion, dizziness and muscle fatigue among other issues, multiplying the risk of error or injury.

Try to drink fluids throughout the day and go ahead and keep your thermos close at hand. Although coffee is commonly perceived as having dehydrating effects drinking coffee in moderation contributes positively to recommended daily fluid intake. The caffeine can increase alertness, and the warmth is obviously welcome on those cold mornings and evenings.

Watch Your Step!

Winter precipitation can cause problems in and around the workplace, particularly for those who work outside – but also because the wet snow can be tracked indoors where it will melt and create a slippery hazard in entranceways. 

The number one cause of accidents in the workplace is slips and falls, you can minimize the risks by taking some basic, proactive steps. Firstly, keep a mop close at hand in order to clean up wet spots and prevent slips. Secondly, keep walkways and entrances clear of snow, and use salt and sand to combat ice in these high traffic areas. Thirdly, consider wearing slip-resistant footwear when necessary. It may not always be fashionable but could save you from a rough tumble. Also, try to take smaller, more cautious steps in potentially icy/slippery areas.

When out on the jobsite, try to mark icy areas to prevent others from slipping. If you find a particularly icy spot, spread the word! Knowing to tread cautiously is often enough to prevent serious accidents.

Travel Safely

Whether headed into work or out to a jobsite, winter driving is inevitable for most workers. Beyond just taking it slow and driving defensively, be sure to equip your vehicle with the appropriate tires for the season. While all-weather tires may seem the cheaper option, a good pair of winter tires can protect you in ways all-seasons just can’t. Never cut costs on equipment that could save your life!

In addition to proper tires, ensure that your vehicle is equipped with a winter safety kit that has all of the essentials: anti-freeze, road flares, a warm blanket, a flashlight, jumper cables, a towrope/strap, waterproof matches, a first aid kit, a small shovel, extra high-energy food and a charger for any cellular devices.

Wrapping It Up

In winter, a little preparedness goes a long way. Spending just a little time planning for the changing conditions can help keep you and your co-workers safe from harm.

This post was shared with us by Workforce Compliance Safety, a safety consulting company from the cold climates of Alberta, Canada.

 Our thanks to Joel  for this great winter advice – we love hearing from our friends in Canada; and please stay warm and safe! Pat