Ontivity Resources

WINTER MONTHS SAFETY

New Braunfels, TX, December 13, 2023

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When it comes to safety, winter weather can pose many different work-related hazards. With cold weather comes a new set of safety hazards like hypothermia, frostbite, dangerous driving conditions, and increased potential for slips, trips, and falls.  The temperatures are going to be cold and weather conditions can be dangerous to travel in. All winter weather hazards should be addressed and taken care of to keep matters as safe as possible.

Today we will discuss 3 topics to help keep you safe during the winter months.

  • MAKE SURE TO DRESS APPROPRIATELY.
  • TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID SLIPS, TRIPS, FALLS.
  • DEVELOP A PLAN TO WARM YOUR BODY DURING YOUR SHIFT.

MAKE SURE TO DRESS APPROPRIATELY.

Winter weather can expose outdoor workers to frostbite, hypothermia, and cold stress, all of which can be fatal. It is important to know the wind chill temperature to better prepare and perform the work safely.  While working in cold weather, it’s helpful to wear warm clothing as this helps insulate your body from extremely low temperatures. Here are some things to keep in mind when dressing for the cold: Start with a foundation layer.  This first layer should be a base layer that wicks moisture away from the body and insulates.  Next, we want to add a mid-layer.  When needed this layer provides additional insulation but should be loose enough to trap body heat. Good blood circulation is crucial when exposed to the cold. Tight-fitting clothing may constrict your blood vessels, making it difficult for warm blood to reach all parts of your body.  The outermost layer of clothing should be water and wind proof but should also be breathable and durable enough to not tear.  When layering, make sure you wear enough layers to stay warm, but avoid wearing too many because unnecessary layers can make it challenging to move and complete your duties safely.  Now let’s talk a bit about protecting our extremities.  Accessories such as hats, hoods, scarves, gloves, and socks help keep body heat in. Insulated hats and hoods can block wind from the face and help scarves protect the neck. Leather or insulated gloves are a better physical barrier than cotton.  Lastly, you might even consider wearing insulated boots. Insulated boots paired with warm socks can keep your feet warm and safe. Insulated boots also keep your feet dry because they do not allow any moisture or snow into the boot, and wool socks are better than cotton socks because they retain heat even when wet.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS.

Shoes that provide traction on snow or ice are important. Rubber soles and boots or shoes with grip and texture can help keep you stable on ice and snow. Make sure your shoes fit properly and have low, wide heels. You should avoid plastic or leather soles in icy or slippery conditions.   In slippery conditions, walk slowly using small, short steps. If conditions are extra slippery, try shuffling along slowly without picking up your feet, in a gliding type of motion. If snow or grass is available walk on these textured surfaces instead of on slippery walkways.  When getting out of a vehicle, swing both legs out and place both feet flat on the ground before getting up.  Using both feet will give you more stability than just one foot.  In winter all kinds of water and ice can be found inside near entryways. Show caution and enter any building or your home by first taking a moment to look down to see if there is any hazard.  Lastly, bracing yourself with your hands helps avoid serious injuries. Avoid carrying items in slippery conditions. If you fall while you are holding something, drop it so that you can protect yourself.  For those of us working in an office, you are just as susceptible to slips, trips, and falls.  Make sure to let someone know of adverse conditions in parking lots or walkways so the appropriate measures can be taken to prevent accidents.    

DEVELOP A PLAN TO WARM YOUR BODY DURING YOUR SHIFT.

Breaks are necessary for any working environment but become increasingly crucial when working in extremely cold conditions. When you are working outdoors in cold temperatures you must add time to your daily schedule for warming breaks. These breaks allow the body to warm up which can relieve cold-related stressors on the body. The best place to take a break is in a warm, dry shelter where you can move around and get your blood flowing.  Now you tower climbers might be thinking “Yeah right”.  While you might not want to climb down the tower just to go back up, you can still take a short break and drink some warm liquids to help maintain a healthy body temperature.  You can add sugar to increase the energy you gain from the beverage. Try to avoid drinking a lot of caffeine as it can dilate your blood vessels, making it easier for your body to lose heat.   While it might not seem logical, you can become dehydrated in colder temps faster than in hot weather.  So, remember to drink plenty of the right fluids to help keep you warm.  Lastly, you will want to keep a dry change of clothes handy.  Running around in even damp clothes increases your chances of cold stress illnesses.

Before we close this out, we don’t want to forget a quick mention of the increased chances of vehicle accidents in wintry conditions.  We all must slow down and stay focused on the road.  Winter road conditions are extremely dangerous even for the most experienced drivers.  We must all do our part to protect ourselves and each other during these winter months.  It starts with you are you ready??

If you would like more information on this topic or any other safety-related topic, please reach out to the Ontivity safety team at safety@ontivity.com, and we will get you taken care of. 

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