Lansing, MI – As temperatures remain cold and winter hazards increase, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) and the Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency (WCA), are reminding employers and employees to exercise caution when working outside in the cold and snow.
“Every employer’s safety and health program should address protection of their employees from hazards due to extreme weather,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. “Providing appropriate equipment and training for adverse weather conditions is key to protecting a company’s most valuable asset, its workers.”
Ensuring workplace safety makes good business sense, too.
“Worker injuries can negatively affect a business’s bottom line, resulting in increased workers’ compensation and insurance costs, overtime, and lost work days for employees,” said WCA Director Mark Long. “By taking the proper safety precautions this winter, job providers can protect workers from nasty slips and falls, and illnesses that will cost them and their employees in the future.”
Lower workers’ comp costs save Michigan employers on overhead expenses and give them additional resources to grow their business, hire new workers and increase their employees’ salaries.
Tips for Winter Workplace Safety
- Keep all walkways cleared of ice and snow; use de-icing materials.
- Clearly mark and light all walkways and passageways.
- Take slow, small steps to walk safely on slippery surfaces.
- Avoid carrying heavy loads that may offset your balance.
- Clearly mark or barricade hazardous areas.
- Take extra precaution when entering and exiting vehicles.
- Dress properly, including three layers of loose-fitting clothing for better insulation; a hat or hood; liner under a hard hat; knit face mask; insulated gloves; and insulated, waterproof boots.
- Take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow yourself to warm up.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue; energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system; work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
- Stay hydrated by drinking warm liquids; avoid caffeine.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods.
Workers with prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may be at risk of cold stress which occurs by driving down the skin temperature and eventually the internal body’s core temperature. This may lead to serious health problems, including frostbite and hypothermia; know the symptoms and the first aid steps to address these conditions. Workers’ risk factors that can contribute to cold stress are wetness/dampness, inadequate dressing for cold weather, and exhaustion. Workers with pre-existing health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or cardiovascular disease; are in poor physical condition; or are taking certain medications, can also be at higher risk for cold stress.
For more helpful tips and public service announcements (PSAs), visit: www.michigan.gov/winterworker.