Ensuring winter safety for workers is much more challenging than worker protection during the summer season. In winter a worker may encounter various problem including snowfall, harsh driving conditions and a risk of frostbite. One must be very careful in order to avoid injury to oneself during work.
Though closing down is not an option, still it is advisable to take a break under certain circumstances. For example it is foolish enough to try to reach work during a raging snowstorm. Infact it is very likely that your customer will also understand the situation. One way of countering this eventuality is to maximize work during less harsher days when it is possible to keep working.
Providing practical winter safety tips to workers is a part of the game. It can be approached in various ways. One of them is to plan your work in such a way that it does not compromise wokers’s safety. If it’s a windy day, don’t climb ladders or work on roofs. Also calculate and utilize the warmer parts of the day. Do the indoor works in the early morning hours so that the temperature is slightly up when you need to do the outdoor works?
If winter safety issues are not properly addressed it can put workers in harm’s way. Two of the most common winter related ailments are hypothermia and frostbite. The main symptom of hypothermia is confused thinking which is caused when the brain cannot function properly since the body cannot maintain its normal temperature. The ailment can be countered if the workers take care of each other. In such cases the symptoms will be recognized earlier and dealt with accordingly. The initial signs of hypothermia are confusion, shivering and fatigue. The symptoms of later stages of hypothermia are unconsciousness, slow pulse and heavy breathing. Recognizing and treating hypothermia in its initial stage can save precious lives.
Out-doors workers are also exposed to a danger of frostbite. It is caused by the freezing of body tissue and can lead to severe and permanent damage. The simple safety measure against frostbite is to dress properly during winter and not to let any part of the body exposed. There are various visible symptoms of frostbite which include numb skin, stinging and tingling feeling. As soon as these signs appear, the person must immediately switch from a cold to warm atmosphere. If he is outside he must immediately get inside a warm room. The exposed parts of the body should be submerged in warm water.
Wind-chill refers to the temperature experienced by the exposed parts of the skin. The most dangerous aspect of this phenomenon is that the faster the speed of the wind, the quicker it carries heat away from the exposed part of the body. The cold and windy days are the most dangerous since a wind-chill can freeze exposed parts of the body within a minute.
Winter safety measures should be put in place right from the start of the season because our bodies are not accustomed to the outside change and could make us more vulnerable. But once you get used to the winter, it’s not very difficult to adjust.
The first and foremost winter safety tip is proper clothing. Winter clothes should be worn methodically so that they could protect the worker completely.
Falling on ice can put a worker in a dire situation. Ice also makes the ground slippery which makes it very difficult to move around with all the extra clothing and tools. The best way to solve ice-related problems during winter is to avoid it as much as you can.
Some very useful winter safety tips can be found at The Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the CDC. They guide the workers about including hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot and chilblains. The guide provides the signs and appropriate responses for each problem.
Though trench foot and chilblains are not as dangerous as hypothermia and frostbite, they should not be taken lightly since they can lead to other serious problems.
Another aspect of winter safety tips for out-door workers is to avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Instead, an assortment of warm foods and drinks with high calories should be consumed in order to maintain body’s high temperature during outdoor works.
The final aspect of winter safety of workers is a regular vehicle maintenance check. Your car must be in great shape when you drive out for work.
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