5 tips for protecting your employees as the temperature drops

The onset of winter weather brings new safety concerns and hazards for businesses

Coloradans know that snowfall can be a factor starting as early as October through as late as May. The onset of this winter weather brings new safety concerns and hazards for businesses in Colorado. 

Snowstorms can cause costly damage to businesses — remember the blizzard of 2003? It dumped up to six feet of snow on some parts of the state, and according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, it resulted in tens of millions in insurance claims. 

Winter worries include an increase in slips, trips and falls as well as travel complications, illnesses and exposure leading to hypothermia and frostbite. However, by incorporating the right precautions, you can decrease your employees’ chances of being injured on the job by these seasonal hazards.

Here are some tips for proactively preparing for the most common winter weather risks:

Tip No. 1: Sidestep slips, trips and falls

Pinnacol claims data tell us that more than one thousand Coloradans are injured each winter season at work as a result of trip and fall injuries on ice and snow. Pinnacol noted a 46% increase in these injuries during the winter of 2018-19.

Employers should encourage workers to wear footwear with slip-resistant treads. Move ice and snow from places your employees walk and use deicer to eliminate slush buildup. This includes obvious areas like parking lots and sidewalks, but also indoors in lobby areas where tile can become slippery from tracked in snow. Also, many employees may not realize that getting in and out of their cars is a common scenario in which workers can take a fall.

Tip No. 2: Avoid hypothermia and frostbite

Many workers in Colorado need to be outside, despite cold weather. Encourage employees to dress in layers including waterproof clothing as the outer layer. Have them remove wet clothing as soon as possible when coming indoors, double up on socks and choose mittens over gloves. Watch for frostbite signs  such as lost feeling in extremities or blistering of skin.  

Tip No. 3: Dodge accidents during winter travel

According to Pinnacol data, the most common cause of worker fatalities is motor vehicle accidents. Stay informed and check road conditions before driving. The Colorado Department of Transportation has a handy website to gauge weather wherever you’re headed. Remind employees not to use cruise control, which can trigger skids in wintery conditions.

Tip No. 4: Fight winter illness

During winter flu season, ramp up work-based infection control measures and encourage (or subsidize) employees to get their flu shots.

Tip No. 5: ‘Tis the (ladder) season

As the holidays approach, employees may want to get in the spirit by hanging decorations. Ladder falls are very common occupational injuries that can be avoided by following basic ladder safety rules. Also, warn employees that stacking objects like boxes, or standing on chairs to reach higher are big safety hazards.    

Watch this winter weather pointers video for more suggestions on readying for cold weather.

(This sponsored content was provided by Pinnacol Assurance.)

Krista O’Rourke, CIC, is the vice president of agency relations and safety services for Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado’s leading workers’ compensation insurer. Contact Pinnacol’s safety consultants at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303-361-4700.  

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