10 minutes or less. That’s all it takes for an employee to be in severe danger. But you’ve typically heard us talking about that timeframe in the context of sudden cardiac arrest. And while SCA can strike just as much in the winter as any time of year, the 10 minutes we’re referring to this time is how long it takes for an employee working out to be seriously injured and require immediate relief and/or resuscitation from that injury.
Between the hazards posed by Mother Nature to the man-made problems caused by lack of planning, here are the key winter safety tips for employees if you’re going to tally up those days since a safety-related accident inside or near the workplace.
#1: Plan As A Team, Not Just Individually.
What we mean by this is that safety is everyone’s job and if we reinforce that concept over and over again through guidelines, training and clear action plans, we can reduce the amount of overall injuries and tragic deaths on the job. More often than not, we’ll assume that you don’t have single employees working outside by themselves – nor should you.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping employees aware of safety precautions through email and signage throughout the building or warehouse prior to going outside, but remember: That communication is being received at different times in different ways individually. You don’t know for certain that everyone is on the same page, learning at the same time about what to do in specific scenarios.
Plus, having teams assembled as there are winter safety tips for employees disseminated encourages a more open dialogue of questions and answers that can be part of the session. This interactivity promotes enhanced education where everyone is moving in the same direction and again, reinforces the fact that safety is a shared responsibility by all.
#2: What’s Your Company “Risk Profile” Look Like?
Think about how many people are going to be regularly working outside. Then how many are going to be making their way from the parking lot to the office/warehouse. About how many people are we talking about that could be impacted by a hazardous area or piece of equipment? You don’t need to have it specific down to the individual but what really brings home the importance of safety is to understand just how many people are at risk for injury, whether that injury comes to fruition or not. And frankly, that figure ought to drive you to take the proper steps to address the more vulnerable areas of concern.
Once we know how many people from the company may find themselves consistently in harm’s way, especially those who regularly work outside for 10 minutes or more in cold weather conditions, we want to zero in on those locations that may be of the highest risk. SOS Technologies can help you in such a risk assessment as you may believe certain locations are “good enough” to preserve safety but aren’t going far enough to provide an additional layer of protection – such as adding more lighting or addressing inside/outside transition areas where slip-and-fall problems could likely occur (i.e. mats instead of nothing but slippery tile).
#3: Incident Reports: What Does History Tell Us About Hazardous Zones In Your Workplace?
Sometimes the best sources of insight on winter safety tips for employees come from within our very own environment – what do the incident reports say? Better yet, have you been keeping detailed records of each safety incident? Having these records is absolutely critical to helping you uncover dangerous areas of risk before an OSHA inspector does. So check the reports, examine what kind of injuries took place and where. If there is an action that was taken filed on the report, examine that response too.
Incident reports and keeping detailed records of injuries can also keep your workplace in a constant state of improvement toward the safest environment it can be, so proper diligence is something your entire team becomes aware of and embraces. This is especially true if you not only identify the problem areas where safety is lacking but also launch safety initiatives to eliminate or minimize hazardous areas.
#4: Spot The Real Risks of Hypothermia and Frostbite
We’ve talked a lot about preparation and planning. Now let’s move to what to actually do when, for all of that planning, you have an employee who is working outdoor for an extended period of time in harshly cold conditions. It goes without saying that you have to really evaluate whether or not the particular time of day is best for this outdoor work to occur and how urgent it needs to be done then and there. If it absolutely must be done, your team needs to watch for the signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Do you see the individual shaking in an uncontrollable manner, appearing disoriented and unable to form any kind of speech? This is a tell-tale indication of frostbite. What about if they are coherent and complain of blistered skin, stiff joints and no feeling at all in their hands or feet? Frostbite may be setting in and may already have done so.
Take action by helping move the affected individual indoors as soon as possible and then to a warm area. Get the wet articles of clothing off of the hypothermia/frostbite victim, elevate the worst area of the body impacted such as the arms or legs and, should you see excessive blistering, apply a bandage to the area.
#5: Tackle The Top Slip-And-Fall Zones
Slip-and-falls may feel random in that they can occur anywhere, but there are some places where they occur more often than you may expect. We tend to see the highest frequency of them in high traffic areas such as sidewalks near the entrance, tile floors in the lobby, indoor walkways, main stairways and other primary work areas. It’s probably best if you not only have an ample supply of floor mats for indoor areas but also take action to remove snow and ice from those sidewalks – even after you do, put down cones or signs to indicate that they should take extra precaution when moving through the area, if not avoid it altogether.
You don’t have to share the very best winter safety tips for employees on your own. That’s where we literally come in at SOS Technologies. We’ll bring the safety training to you, complete with education for your teams on first aid, CPR and AED administration. We’ll even do a thorough walk-through of your facility to identify the biggest areas of trouble for not only winter-related accidents but the kind that can happen any time of year. Take the proactive approach to winter on behalf of your team and arrange your on-site visit and training with SOS Technologies today at 888.705.6100.