What winter hazards do my facilities staff face when working outside?
“Understanding the hazards that are associated with the winter months and implementing precautions can help prevent injury and save lives,” writes Langdon Dement, MS, AEP, GSP, EHS Advisor with UL Workplace Health & Safety on the organization’s Knowledge at Work website. “Awareness, preparation, and proper training are essential when combating not only cold stress and other winter conditions, but any workplace hazard that organizations face.”
Cold stress (including hypothermia, cold water immersion, trench foot, frostbite, and chilblains), carbon monoxide poisoning, winter driving, shoveling snow, working at heights while clearing snow, and walking safely on snow and ice are some of the hazards workers face when working outside in winter. To learn more about these hazards and how to address them, read Dement’s blog post “Weathering the Winter: More Than Just Surviving the Cold.”
OSHA also provides a list of winter weather related hazards that workers may face, along with specific advice for avoiding injury or death. Topics addressed include:
- Winter Driving
- Work Zone Traffic Safety
- Stranded in a Vehicle
- Shoveling Snow
- Using Powered Equipment like Snow Blowers
- Clearing Snow from Roofs and Working at Heights
- Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice
- Repairing Downed or Damaged Power Lines
- Working Near Downed or Damaged Power Lines
- Removing Downed Trees
Finally, this Work/Warm-up Schedule for a 4-hour shift from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) takes both air temperature and wind speed into account, to provide recommendations on scheduling work breaks and ceasing non-emergency work (click image to enlarge):
What are some of the winter hazards your facilities staff have faced, and how did you ensure their safety? Please share your thoughts and resources in the Comments section below.