Guest Post: How to Winterize Your Workplace November 22,2019

From our friends at Pinnacol.

As the seasons change, there’s a buzz at work. Employees grow excited about fall and the upcoming holidays. But as the days grow shorter, we know that inclement weather — snowy and icy conditions — is on its way, as well.

Plan now for winter weather. A comprehensive safety program includes precautions that help minimize winter injuries and workers’ compensation claims and ensure regulatory compliance. Here, in brief, are things your organization can do to winterize the workplace.

Slips, trips and falls

  • Keep walkways, stairs and other work areas dry and clear of snow and ice.
  • Remove hazards such as water on floors and snow on sidewalks.
  • Look where you walk and use your arms and hands to steady yourself.
  • Avoid carrying loads thatare too heavy or obstruct your vision.
  • Mark hazardous areas with signs, barricades or floor stands.
  • Wear treaded footwear for better traction outdoors. Walk on grassy areas instead of snowy or icy pavement.
Frostbite and hypothermia
  • Monitor the temperature at worksites.
  • Equip employees with protective clothing that provides thermal insulation, as well as tools that can be used with gloves.
  • Train staff on frostbite and hypothermia symptoms, winter weather best practices and remediation of cold-weather injuries.
  • Use the buddy system to watch for symptoms in co-workers.
  • Adjust the pace of work, shifts and breaks, and allow new employees time to acclimate to conditions.
If frostbite or hypothermia occurs, elevate the body part that is affected. Move the worker to a warm area. Remove wet clothing and apply sterile bandages where necessary. Seek medical care immediately.

Winter driving
Your organization should ensure that employee and fleet vehicles are winterized this fall:
  • Scheduled maintenance: Schedule service for an oil change, coolant flush and brake inspection based on the mileage and manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Address any maintenance issues with the vehicle’s battery, electrical system, hoses and belts.
  • Fluids: Check to ensure proper oil, coolant, transmission and other fluid levels.
  • Tires: Check for proper tread depth and for signs of damage or uneven wear. Ensure tires are properly inflated.
  • Visibility systems: Inspect turn signals, headlights and brake lights; defrosters (windshield and rear window); and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.
  • Winter kits: Outfit vehicles with emergency essentials such as snow brushes, shovels, jumper cables, thermal blankets and more.
These are primary considerations for winter, but there are others. Safeguard your workplace’s air quality so contaminants don’t build up. Stock flashlights and consider a backup power generator to safely navigate power outages. Also, allow telecommuting to reduce transportation injuries and to isolate sick employees from healthy workers.

Pinnacol and other resources
Visit the Knowledge Center on Pinnacol’s website. There you’ll find guidance on preventing winter falls and vehicle accidents, as well as a Pinnacol Pointers video about safety throughout the season. We invite you and your team to contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call at or 303.361.4700. Additionally, explore the extensive information on winter safety at OSHA’s website. And check out these helpful resources:

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