As the seasons change, so do the risks of workplace hazards. Winter, for example, brings an increased risk of slipping and falling. As noted by OHSonline.com, ice and snow create dangerous conditions and could also mask other on-the-ground hazards.
Accident prevention often requires employers to clear ice and snow from parking lots, walkways and outdoor work areas. Wintertime salting or sanding could lessen the chance of wet areas turning into ice. Employers may also consider clearing heavy snow from rooftops to help prevent them from developing leaks or collapsing.
Avoiding hazards caused by downed power lines
Severe weather often knocks down power lines that could expose outdoor workers to dangerous electrical shocks. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that moisture from rain or snow decreases the protection provided by insulation. Work crews should avoid trees or other fallen objects near damaged power lines; they may contain enough electrical energy to cause severe shocks.
Power outages also create hazardous working conditions when employees cannot see well in darkened areas. Backup generators could serve as an emergency power source that provides lighting so employees can continue working or see stairs and handrails clearly while exiting.
Preventing injuries involving heavy equipment and vehicles
Heavy worksite equipment increases the risk of injuries. Operators may lose control or skid on slippery or icy work areas. Extreme weather conditions may also cause vehicles to break down and leave workers stranded in extreme hot or cold weather. OSHA warns that exposure to severe outdoor temperatures could lead to heat stroke or hypothermia.
Employers owe a duty of care to properly maintain the on-the-job equipment their workers use. Companies also have a duty to provide safe work areas and take steps to help prevent workplace accidents.