Strategies for Reducing Winter-Related Injuries in the Workplace

winter-related injuries

Though it brings holiday festivities and fun activities, winter presents unique challenges for the workplace. As snow and ice routinely cover the group, the risk of winter-related injuries is high. Slippery surfaces, reduced visibility, and cold stress are significant hazards that can result in accidents like slips, trips, and falls. In 2021, approximately 850 workers died from injuries sustained from slips, trips, or falls. Addressing these hazards is crucial for maintaining employee safety during winter, ensuring employees can enjoy the winter holidays. This article explores the various hazards presented by winter and strategies employers can use to prevent winter-related injuries in the workplace. From understanding the various dangers to implementing a comprehensive safety plan, this article guides employers seeking to keep their workforce safe and healthy this winter. 

Understanding Winter Hazards

Winter weather and conditions result in various hazards that can significantly impact the workplace. Ice and snow accumulation can leave parking lots and outdoor work areas slippery, increasing the risk of accidents. The cold temperatures and winds can also lead to cold stress, including hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot. Employees working outdoors or in unheated facilities may be susceptible to this condition. Beyond the cold and snowy weather, winter brings about shorter daylight hours, reducing visibility. This can lead to accidents, particularly in construction and transportation occupations. 

The cold winter season is unavoidable, but many workplaces can adjust the work environment or activities to keep employees safe. Employers must recognize the hazards of winter weather and take steps to prevent injuries in the workplace.

Strategies for Reducing Winter-Related Injuries

Though the winter season brings about numerous hazards and risks, there are steps employers can take to ensure the safety of their employees this holiday season. Employers can create a safe workplace throughout the year by implementing safety strategies like clearing surfaces and requiring winter PPE.

Ensuring Safe and Cleared Surfaces

Winter weather, like snow and ice, can cause slippery conditions in outdoor work environments and parking lots. A clearly defined snow and ice removal procedure can prevent slips, trips, and falls. Properly using salt and de-icing agents can address ice hazards promptly. However, providing adequate training for using these products is essential, as overuse can have negative environmental impacts. Employers should hire services to clear roadways and sidewalks of ice and snow or delegate this task to well-trained employees.

Scheduling Breaks to Prevent Cold Stress

For outdoor work environments, like paving and construction, the cold weather can cause increased stress on the body. During the winter months, employers should increase the number of breaks these employees receive to prevent cold stress and allow employees to manage their body temperature effectively. Outdoor employees should have access to warm break areas, either indoors with heat or outdoors with portable electric heaters. These spaces serve as crucial retreats where employees can thaw out and minimize the risk of cold-related health issues.

Utilizing Proper Winter PPE

To combat cold stress, employers should require adequate winter gear, like heavy coats, gloves, hats, and face protection. These articles of clothing provide crucial protection from the elements and can keep employees safer during cold and snowy weather. For some industries, like construction, employers may consider providing this equipment to ensure it cannot get caught in other machinery.

By integrating these safe work practices into daily operations, organizations can actively mitigate the risks of winter hazards. Employers can reduce winter-related injuries by incorporating these strategies into a winter safety plan.

Creating a Winter Safety Plan

To ensure the safety of employees during the winter months, employers should institute a comprehensive winter safety plan. This plan serves as proactive protection from winter-related accidents for employees. Employers should start with a risk assessment when developing a comprehensive winter safety plan for the workplace. Risk assessments include working with occupational health specialists to identify specific winter-related hazards for your workplace. These specialists are experts at identifying and evaluating hazards. This assessment forms the foundation for targeted safety measures. 

Employers can collaborate with employees and occupational health professionals to create winter weather safety protocols based on the risk assessment. These protocols should include information about inclement weather, when work may be delayed or modified, and how that information will be communicated to employees. These protocols should also include procedures for staying safe at work during winter, including snow removal, required PPE, and additional breaks due to cold weather. 

Winter safety procedures must also include an emergency response plan in case of winter-related injuries or accidents in the workplace. This may include protocols for getting employees medical assistance, informing the employer about the incident, and receiving worker’s compensation. Once your workplace winter safety plan has been finalized, it is essential to provide training and education to employees to ensure they stay safe and informed. 

Use these strategies to keep your employees safe from winter-related injuries in the workplace!

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.