In the midst of winter, freezing rain, snow, and ice can drastically increase the potential for winter-related workplace accidents.
Putting safety precautions in place can reduce the chance of a workplace accident once cold weather conditions arrive. The simple actions outlined below may help decrease workers’ compensation claims which can affect your bottom line and can help control the cost of your policy premium moving forward. Even if the first storm has already hit, it’s not too late to take these simple steps to protect you, your employees, and your business:
1. Manage walkways and parking lots. When a winter storm rolls in, the chances of slipping and falling skyrocket. It’s important to keep all common walkways and parking lots clear of ice and snow – this improves safety for both your employees, and your customers.
If you don’t own the building, ensure your property manager promptly removes snow, de-ices sidewalks, maintains clear walkways. If you do own the property, have a snow removal company on call to clear these areas before the workers begin their day, and task a team to spread ice melt and/or kitty litter to provide traction in treacherous areas like shady spots or those that are difficult to keep dry. Also, all outdoor walkways and parking areas should be well-lit so workers can see and avoid potential dangers.
2. Stay warm. Encourage all employees — especially those who work outside — to dress appropriately for the weather and wear multiple layers. Frostbite is a very serious condition that can be prevented by planning ahead. Several layers of clothing allow you to adjust to the environment as temperatures and weather conditions fluctuate throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is four layers:
- a thin base layer for warmth (think long underwear)
- a mid-layer (like your regular clothes)
- an insulating layer (such as a down coat or warm fleece)
- an outer layer or shell (ideally one that is waterproof)
And of course, don’t forget suitable footwear. A final note, employers should provide frequent breaks for those working outdoors to warm up and recuperate.
3. Prepare work vehicles. If you have employees who drive as part of their job duties (such as visiting job sites, picking up office supplies, driving team members to an off-site meeting, or visiting clients) keep them safe on the road by properly maintaining their work vehicles. A reliable set of winter or all-season tires with good tread should be a priority. We also recommend keeping a fully stocked emergency road kit in each vehicle complete with a flashlight, batteries, a blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, a first-aid kit, an ice scraper/snow brush, jumper cables, reflectors and road flares.
4. Update first-aid kits. Conduct regular checks of all first aid kits around the workplace, and refill supplies as needed. If your employees are regularly exposed to the winter elements, make available several items that are vital in the colder months and don’t take up too much room: air-activated hand, body, and foot warmers, and information cards on how to treat hypothermia, frostbite, and more.
If an employee is injured in a fall or sustains cold-related injuries on the job, it is important to file the appropriate workers’ compensation claims immediately. Employee injuries can impact productivity and profitability, so we also recommend regular company-wide training on how to prevent injuries before they occur.
At Cerity, we are committed to helping to provide resources to keep your employees safe year round. Introducing and following comprehensive winter safety policies helps reduce claims during the winter months, which may benefit your annual workers’ compensation premiums.
If you have questions about your workers’ comp coverage, or if it’s time to switch providers, Team Cerity is dedicated to helping you along the way.