With winter upon us, and unpredictable weather forecasted for the region in 2020 by local meteorologists, it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected hazards that could derail your business. OSHA offers the following precautions for when winter weather strikes:

Damage to roofs and infrastructure – Employers should evaluate snow removal tasks for hazards and plan how to do the work safely. For example, layers of ice can form as temperatures drop, making surfaces even more slippery. Employers should determine the right type of equipment and personal protective equipment for the job and make sure that workers are trained on how to properly use them.

Winter driving – Promote safe driving behavior by making sure that workers recognize the hazards of winter weather driving. Have the following items on-hand in case you get stuck in traffic or worse, in a car that breaks down:

  • Cellphone or two-way radio
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Tow chain
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Road maps
  • Blankets, change of clothes

Slips and Falls - To prevent slips, trips, and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer as quickly as possible after a winter storm. Wear proper footwear when walking on snow or ice.

Work Zone Traffic Safety - Workers being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment lead to many work zone fatalities or injuries annually. It’s important to properly set up work zones with the traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels, and barriers, to protect workers.

Stranded in a Vehicle - If you are stranded in a vehicle, stay in the vehicle. Call for emergency assistance if needed, response time may be slow in severe winter weather conditions. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. Display a trouble sign by hanging a brightly colored cloth on the vehicle’s radio antenna and raising the hood. Turn on the vehicle's engine for about 10 minutes each hour and run the heat to keep warm. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.