Winter is filled with seasonal weather that is beautiful, the beauty of winter also comes with many dangers. Extreme temperatures associated with icy conditions and snow can cause long term health effects or even death if prolonged exposure occurs. Are your employees and safety program prepared for the extreme temperatures?
Cold Weather Monitoring
Part of the job site routine should be to receive a weather update. Not only will this help to prepare for potential rainfall, but it will also make sure that employees are properly clothed for the weather they will be working in. Tool box talks and job safety analysis (JSAs) are great opportunities to discuss upcoming severe weather and review procedures.
Your company should have a chart or procedure on what temperatures are deemed safe to work in. The chart should also factor in wind chill and humidity levels since these can significantly increase the potential for hypothermia.
Wear Proper PPE
Employees working in cold environments need to be equipped with proper PPE (personal protection equipment) that allows them to perform their job function AND stay warm. Many types of cold weather gear can be bulky and reduce dexterity and movement. The HSE (Health, safety, and environmental) Specialist should work with PPE manufacturers to make sure that the right equipment for the job is selected. It may be necessary to conduct test runs of different PPE combinations to determine the right style for the job.
In some cases, for instance glove protection, two layers maybe needed. The initial layer, called a glove liner, helps provide warmth and dexterity if the outer layer is removed. The outer layer glove may be more insulated and provides warmth for prolonged exposures.
Employees that travel to and from jobsites face potential danger if the road conditions are hazardous. If possible, limit road travel during icy road condition or times of heavy snowfall.
If road travel is essential, have a plan in place. The plan should consist of 1) where is the destination, 2) what is the path of travel, 3) what is the employee’s contact during travel, 4) what are the points and time for check in during travel. In addition, the employee’s vehicle should be equipped with an emergency supply kit in the event that the employee gets stranded along the road.