Essential Cold Weather Safety Tips for Employees and Employers

cold weather safety tips for employees

The holidays may be over, but the cold weather still lives on here in the Alden, NY area. And whether or not you’ve experienced first-hand the effect that snow, ice and extreme temperatures can have on your employees, it’s important to get started now with adopting prevention techniques.

Otherwise, these seemingly small nuisances can bring on life-threatening situations in your work area, especially if your employees work outside. That’s why we’ve developed the following cold weather safety tips for employees that will help you recognize areas of concern in your business space and get into the right mindset to protect your workers.

There are two aspects of safety – the knowledge of employees and your own prevention techniques as an employer. In other words, set your employees up for success with quality uniforms that will keep them warm, floor mats that will provide traction against slippery flooring, and training to ensure that they know how to recognize the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and instructions for what to do if they see snow or ice on the floor.

The primary cold weather safety tips for employees include keeping in mind these hazards:

Hypothermia and Frostbite

The reduced temperature can cause cold stress conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia. These conditions can have a long-lasting impact on your employees and should not be taken lightly.

What should you look out for? The signs of hypothermia vs. frostbite are different so it’s important to know how to recognize the two.

The signs of hypothermia include: mumbling and slurred speech, unusually low energy, clumsiness and lack of coordination, and shivering.

The signs of frostbite include: cold, hard and unusually colored skin (such as pale, bluish-white, or red), numbness, and clumsiness from stiff joints and muscles.

What can be done? It’s integral that if any of these symptons appear that you immediately call for proper medical care. In the meantime, move the individual over to a warm location, remove any wet articles of clothing, and elevate the affected body part.

While you should limit employee exposure to the harsh cold weather, it’s important that if they are subject to work outside that you supply them with uniforms that will help keep them warm, while making sure that you are providing enough fluids to keep employees hydrated, and making sure that they are moving to help increase blood flow and therefore warmth.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents from Snow and Ice Accumulation

Slipping and falling isn’t just an embarrassing act; it could be fatal. According to the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2017 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Fatal falls were at their highest level in the 26-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), accounting for 887 (17 percent) worker deaths.”

Don’t make your employees another statistic. Slip-and-fall accidents can happen year-round, but have an increased likelihood during this time of year because now you’re not just accounting for regular spills in your business; you’re also having to take into consideration snow and ice that sits outside of your business as well as what gets tracked onto your floors.

What can be done? Just like you’ll need a safety training program for your employees on recognizing hypothermia and frostbite, you’ll also need to train employees on preventing slip-and-fall accidents.

Your employees should know to:

  1. Wear hard hats outdoors to protect them from hitting their head if they slip.
  2. Clean up water, ice and snow when they see it on the floor or entrance steps.
  3. Pay attention to where they are walking.
  4. Place signage anywhere that other employees and customers could slip.
  5. Wear footwear with good treads to provide increased traction.

An important thing for you to know is to apply floor mats at all entrances to your business. Floor mats will not only scrape snow and ice off of shoes as individuals enter your space, but they also provide a level of traction as individuals move from one type of flooring to another.

When deciding where your business will need mats, think about where else snow and ice can be tracked in. And while you are on the subject of mats, think about other areas in your business space where slip-and-fall accidents could be a danger year-round.

At Doritex, we have a line of uniforms and floor mats that can help you with your safety solutions throughout every season. Simply contact us today at 800.242.2145 for your free consultation with our uniform and matting experts.