Work-Related Winter Safety Tips

Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice

To prevent slips, trips, and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm. In addition, the following precautions will help reduce the likelihood of injuries:

  • Wear proper footwear when walking on snow or ice is unavoidable because it is especially treacherous. A pair of insulated and water-resistant boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months.

  • Take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction when walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway. Test your footing before committing your whole weight in a step. Be mindful of “black ice” (a thin sheet of ice on a surface that may not be visible to the naked eye).

  • Use your door or the roof of your vehicle when getting in and out. Avoid parking on ice if possible.

Winter Driving

Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers: recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice covered roads; are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions, and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate. Drive safely during the winter:

  • Slow down, take your time, leave earlier than normal

  • Begin slowing at intersections earlier than normal

  • Avoid stopping or parking on hills or inclines

  • Take corners slower than normal

  • Turn into skids and avoid using the brake

  • Give plenty of space between your vehicle and others and stop where you can completely see the tires of the vehicle in front of you at stop signs/stop lights

Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided. Employers should ensure properly trained workers inspect the following vehicle systems to determine if they are working properly:

  • Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.

  • Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.

  • Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.

  • Engine: Inspect all engine systems.

  • Exhaust System: Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.

  • Tires: Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear. Check for proper tire inflation.

  • Oil: Check that oil is at the proper level.

  • Visibility Systems: Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.

An emergency kit with the following items is recommended in vehicles:

  • Cellphone or two-way radio

  • Windshield ice scraper

  • Snowbrush

  • Flashlight with extra batteries

  • Shovel

  • Tow chain

  • Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)

  • Emergency flares

  • Jumper cables

  • Snacks

  • Water

  • Roadmaps

  • Blankets, change of clothes

Winter Work Zone Traffic Safety
Workers being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment lead to many work zone fatalities or injuries annually. Drivers may skid or lose control of their vehicles more easily when driving on snow and/or ice-covered roads. It is, therefore, important to properly set up work zones with the traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels, and barriers to protect workers. Workers exposed to vehicular traffic should wear the appropriate high visibility vest at all times so that they are visible to motorists. Workers should also remain vigilant regarding their surroundings while working in work zones. Pay attention to what is going on around you and where you are stepping.  Identify potential safety hazards and correct or avoid them.

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