In preparation for the winter months, it’s important to consider what measures you will take to exercise proper safety precautions in both your home and commercial or industrial workplace. During 2014, the United States Department of Labor recorded 42,480 workplace injuries and illnesses involving ice, sleet, or snow that required at least one day away from work to recuperate. Of these reported incidents, 82% resulted from slips or falls on level ground (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Planning and preparing can save you significant money in the long run and prevent serious injuries. We suggest you consider the following winter safety tips as you plan how you will best maintain a safe environment at your home or workplace during cold, snowy, or icy weather.
Before winter months hit, it’s important to check that your home is prepared. Damage from frozen pipes or faulty heating systems can be expensive and even deadly.
- Check that your home is properly insulated (walls and attic), that you have adequate storm windows, and that windows and doors are caulked.
- Have your heating systems professionally checked and serviced. It’s important that they are clean, working properly and ventilate to the outside.
- Make sure you are equipped with carbon monoxide detectors and are familiar with the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
- Remove tree branches that could become heavy with ice or snow and fall on your home.
- If possible, shut off outside water valves.
- To protect exposed pipes, allow a small trickle of water run from connected faucets.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow air to circulate around pipes.
- Keep your thermostat set to the same temperature day and night and leave it set to no lower than 55°F while away from home for an extended time. The extra cost of heating your home is minuscule in comparison to the expensive cost of damages from frozen or burst pipes.
- If your home has a fireplace, use a glass or metal screen to prevent sparks or even rollings logs from making their way to flammable carpet or furniture.
- When using a space heater, follow the three-foot rule- keep any surrounding items at least three feet away from your heater.
- Before going to bed, make sure any space heaters are turned off and fire embers are fully extinguished.
It’s never a good idea to cut corners when it comes to safety during snowy or icy winter months. This is especially true when you have a responsibility for the safety of your employees and patrons. Taking extra time to plan and create a safe work environment will prevent injury and keep your workday running smoothly.
- If you work at a commercial retail property, it’s important to keep in mind that the last months of the year will likely be some of your busiest. During these periods of larger crowds, it’s more important than ever to keep walkways clear of pallets, boxes, or other items. Remember: safety first!
- Take extra time to keep floors clean and dry. Any snow that gets tracked into your workplace can quickly create a dangerously slippery surface.
- Use “wet floor” signs where necessary.
- Provide adequate lighting in your workplace that will help illuminate any wet or slippery surfaces.
- Encourage employees to wear slip-resistant footwear.
- If you are working on a project outdoors, review your work site safety every day. Surfaces can become dangerously slippery overnight.
- Schedule outside work in shorter increments and break up large projects into smaller tasks.
- Establish a warm area for employees to take breaks from outside work.
- Keep track of weather forecasts. The last thing you want is for your employees to be stuck working outside in a terrible snow storm or severely cold temperatures.
- Ensure that employees wear appropriate clothing for outside work such as a wind resistant coat or jacket, a hat, scarf, mittens, and waterproof boots.
- Make sure that employees stay dry. Wet clothing loses its ability to insulate and quickly transmits cold temperatures to the body.
- Be familiar with and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and get immediate medical attention for any symptoms.
- Sprinkle icy surfaces with sand to provide traction or salt to melt the ice.
An effective solution to keeping steps, doorways and walkways safe and ice-free is the Summerstep Snow Melting Mat. Summerstep heated mats are designed to be left outside all winter long, can be custom made to fit any location, and will melt approximately 2 inches of snow per hour while operating. It eliminates time-consuming shoveling and de-icing and prevents slips that could cause serious injury and even a lawsuit. To save time and hassle, and for added peace of mind, consider making Summerstep heated mats a part of your winter safety precautions.