It’s beginning to get brisk and blustery outside! Time to bust out the winter boots and warm beverages. Whether this season’s weather brings massive snowstorms or just the occasional cold snap—if you own a small business, it’s definitely time to winterize your workplace.
Winterizing your workplace is the best way to prevent injuries like slips, trips, and falls. To promote workplace safety during winter, you can take steps to reduce slippery surfaces, train your workers on winter driving, minimize cold exposure, and have a communications plan. To improve morale during the season, bring in some warm apple cider, call a meeting, and ask your team to help design the ideal winter safety plan for your business.
Each winter, there is a significant spike in work-related injuries. There were 42,480 workplace injuries and illnesses involving ice, sleet, or snow in just one year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number includes only those events that caused employees to miss at least one day of work and that were reported to the bureau. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts a wetter winter with colder than average temperatures in some regions. That’s an ice-cold recipe for weather-related injuries at work.
If you operate a business, you know how essential it is to promote safety among your employees. Depending on the size of your workforce and your industry, you may be required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or by your state regulators to have a safety plan in place. However, even if you are not required to show proof of your safety plan you should still have one. As a business owner, not only does practicing workplace safety protect the members of your team, it also protects your bottom line.
When you put together your workplace winter safety plan, don’t forget to consider the additional risks caused by rain, sleet, and snow. Set aside some work time and call a meeting so that all of your employees can help establish, reevaluate, or refamiliarize themselves with your safety plan.
OSHA, the U.S. entity that protects and regulates workplace safety, recommends enlisting the help of your employees when you create a plan. Having your team members help is key because they:
To effectively winterize your workplace, you should gather your employees and ask them to consider all aspects of their workday. Work together to brainstorm potential winter hazards they may experience while at work and on the way to and from the workplace. Write out all their ideas. Next, group the hazards into categories so that you can create a winter safety plan that is catered specifically to your business. Do not forget to consider the different environments your employees work in, such as the office, warehouse, vehicles, roads, or field.
Address slippery areas
Set up a communications plan
Promote winter driving safety
Minimize cold exposure
Provide education about cold stress
Practice office safety
Winterize your building
With some deliberate planning and participation from your whole team, you can successfully winterize your workplace for safety. Use the opportunity to boost morale and refocus as you face the colder weather months.
Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.