OSHA Tips for Working Safely During Blizzard Recovery and in Cold Weather

As a bomb cyclone seems to be the new norm every winter in the United States, Fed-OSHA has issued a reminder for workers and their employers to be aware of the hazards associated with storm recovery work and working in cold weather.

Cold and snowy conditions can expose outdoor workers to frostbite, hypothermia and cold stress, all of which can be fatal. On top of that, working in snowy or stormy conditions poses a number of other dangers to outdoor workers, such as more risk of slips, trips and falls, dangerous driving conditions, getting stuck in a vehicle, and more.

As work in these conditions is often harried, safety protocols can easily be overlooked. That’s why it’s important that employers and their workers understand the safety issues they face and mitigate against injury or exposure.

Guarding against exposure

OSHA says employers should monitor the wind-chill temperature to better prepare their employees to work safely.

It is also important to monitor workers’ physical condition during tasks, especially new employees who may not be used to working in the cold, or those returning after spending some time away from work.

Follow these work practices to stay safe in cold weather:

  • Know the symptoms of cold stress: reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness and blisters.

  • Dress properly; wear at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing, insulated gloves and boots, and cover your head.

  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers.

  • Stay dry and pack extra clothes; moisture can increase heat loss from the body.

  • Take frequent breaks in warm, dry areas.

  • Drink warm liquids.

Other dangers

In addition to exposure, there are other winter weather-related hazards that workers may be exposed to, such as falls, slips, exposure, structural collapse, lacerations, struck-by hazards and electric shock.

Dangers facing workers include:

Winter driving — Promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice-covered roads; are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate.

Work zone traffic safety — Set up work zones with the traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels and barriers, in order to protect workers. Workers exposed to vehicular traffic should wear an appropriate high-visibility vest at all times.

Stranded in a vehicle — If a worker is stranded in a vehicle, they should stay in the vehicle and call for emergency assistance if needed. They should notify their supervisor of their situation and not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards.

Shoveling snow — During snow removal, in addition to following the tips for avoiding cold stress such as taking frequent breaks in warm areas, workers should warm up before the activity, scoop small amounts of snow at a time and, where possible, push the snow instead of lifting it.

Using powered equipment like snow blowers — Snow blowers can cause lacerations or amputations when operators attempt to clear jams with the equipment turned on. Workers should never attempt to clear a jam by hand.

Instead, they should first turn the snow blower off and wait for all moving parts to stop, and then use a long stick to clear wet snow or debris from the machine, keeping their hands and feet away from moving parts. 

Preventing slips on snow and ice — To prevent slips, trips and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice and spread de-icer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm.

In addition, workers should wear insulated and water-resistant boots with good rubber treads when walking on snow or ice is unavoidable. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months.

Workers should take short steps and walk at a slower pace so they can react quickly to a change in traction, when walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway.

If you would like to speak with us call Gary Wallach at 914-806-5853 or click here to email or click here to visit our website.

BGES Group’s office, located in Larchmont, NY is a full service insurance agency offering, Property, Liability, Umbrella Liability, Business Auto, Bid & Performance Bonds, Inland Marine, Worker’s Compensation, Workers Compensation Premium Recovery, New York State Disability, Group Health, Life insurance, Personal lines and Identity Theft.

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If you would like to speak with us call Gary Wallach at 914-806-5853 or click here to email or click here to visit our website.

Company: BGES Group, 216A Larchmont Acres West, Larchmont, NY 10538

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OSHA Tips for Working Safely During Blizzard Recovery and in Cold Weather

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