1. Review the Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
OSHA requires workplaces with 10 or more employees to have a written emergency action plan. A facility-wide emergency preparedness meeting should occur well before the winter season. A group discussion promotes awareness throughout a facility about winter hazards likely to stall normal operations. Important emergency planning considerations include:
- Impact on operations: discuss the most common seasonal hazards that occur in your area, how it has affected operations in the past, and what everyone can prepare for. Take into account events like power outages and blackouts from high winds and storms, proper snow and ice removal procedures, and evacuations and emergency escape route procedures.
- Emergency communications: ensure employees know how to respond, who to contact, and how to communicate effectively in emergencies and when inclement weather affects normal operations.
- Emergency drills: simulate drills and scenarios in your facility on a regular basis and evaluate areas for improvement.
- Resource sharing: provide easily accessible resources to all employees that outline the most important workplace emergency procedures, like contact information and procedural reminders.
9. Worksite Hazard Analysis
Conduct a wall-to-wall worksite hazard analysis. Make sure industrial hygiene monitoring is included. Review each operation and/or task and create a job safety analysis (JSA).
3. Prevent Cold-Related Illnesses and Injuries
Anyone working in the cold can be at risk of cold-related illnesses and injuries. In general, it doesn’t hurt to train all employees on recognizing the signs and symptoms of common cold-related illnesses including cold stress, hypothermia and frostbite.
These controls can be applied to ensure worker safety:
• Adapt personal protective equipment (PPE) - Evaluate if changes in PPE are needed to ensure worker safety. Although OSHA requires employers to protect workers’ safety and health, it is not required for employers to provide workers with clothing items used solely for the protection against weather, like winter coats (29 CFR 1910.132(h)(4)).
• Prevent fatigue - Keep energy levels up and prevent dehydration by providing workers with warm fluids and water.
• Have a buddy system - Have employees ideally work in pairs or more to help monitor each other for symptoms of cold-related illnesses for added safety. Also, remind employees to keep their general health in mind.
4. Highlight Hazards Using Visuals
Bring hazards to attention using a variety of visual communication methods including signage, floor marking and wayfinding.
Poor visibility plays a large and dangerous role in the winter that can be detrimental if you don’t prepare for its effects:
- Keep areas clear - Make sure pathways, work areas, and stairways are clear from unnecessary items that could cause potential injury.
- Emphasize hard-to-see areas - Clearly highlight areas, items, and machinery when it becomes more difficult to navigate in low-light conditions. Outline egress pathways, door entries, low clearance ceilings and other important areas that are in need of extra attention using glow-in-the-dark and reflective tape.
- Provide extra traction - Identify locations that are prone to being slippery or difficult to navigate by applying tread tape to keep employees stable. Tread tapes are perfect for areas that have a tendency to ice over and are ideal for application on stairs, doorways, ramps, and handrails.
- Implement temporary and outdoor signage - Address hazards that may lurk in your facility as well as outdoors by placing durable premade signs and labels for icy conditions and slips, trips, and falls in areas that are prone to freeze over or get slick.
- Upgrade your wayfinding - Locate where valuable signage and images should be installed to alert personnel of present hazards and recommended safe practices.