HR Management & Compliance

Wheels in Winter Weather—Keep Your Workers Safe

Beyond keeping your spirit and body in shape during the colder months of the year, it’s also important to pay attention to the safety of your vehicle. If any of your employees spend time on the road in the course of their jobs (or even if their time on the road is just commuting to the office), safety training needs to be a priority. Ice and snow have already made an appearance in many parts of the country.

According to the National Weather Service, most injuries during winter storms are a result of vehicle accidents. And, about one-quarter result from being caught out in a storm.
If your employees have to work outdoors, make sure they’re aware of cold-weather hazards like frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite symptoms include a loss of feeling and a wax-white or pale appearance in the fingers, toes, nose, or earlobes. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, stumbling, and exhaustion.

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To prevent these dangerous conditions, workers should wear layers, including water-resistant outer layers, hats, and gloves. Encourage them to take frequent, short breaks in a warm, dry shelter; drink warm, sweet (noncaffeinated) beverages; and consume warm, high-calorie foods.

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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Winter driving can be hazardous and scary, especially in northern regions that get a lot of snow and ice.” The agency recommends the three P’s of safe winter driving—prepare for the trip, protect yourself, and prevent crashes.

  • Preparation refers to maintaining the vehicle and having supplies on hand like jumper cables, a flashlight, sand or kitty litter, a shovel, a snow brush/ice scraper, flares, blankets, and food and water.
  • Protection measures include using seatbelts and child safety seats properly, e.g., never placing a rear-facing child seat in front of an air bag and keeping kids under the age of 12 in the back seat.
  • Prevent crashes by avoiding drugs and alcohol, slowing down, staying vigilant of pedestrians, avoiding fatigue, and eliminating distractions, especially cell phones.

Enjoy the wintry months (as best you can!) while helping your employees stay focused, healthy, and uninjured.

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