Winter Weather Advisory: Work Safely in the Snow

By SHRM Online staff Dec 29, 2011
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Companies that must send employees out to work in winter weather can get tips on protecting them at www.osha.gov.

People working outside in snow and ice face many hazards, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Shoveling heavy snow might be unaccustomed physical exertion that can bring on back injuries or a heart attack. Spending time inside a vehicle with the engine running to get warm presents the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. And icy sidewalks can lead to slips, trips and falls.

The Winter Storm page at www.osha.gov lists hazards for employers to be aware of and tips for employees to follow to stay safe. Hazards associated with working in winter storms include:

  • Being struck by falling objects such as icicles, tree limbs and utility poles.
  • Driving accidents attributable to slippery roadways.
  • Dehydration, hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Electrocution from downed power lines and objects in contact with power lines.
  • Falls from snow removal on roofs.
  • Roof collapse from the weight of snow.
  • Lacerations or amputations from unguarded or improperly operated chain saws and power tools, and attempting to clear jams in snow blowers improperly.

The page includes guidance on overcoming these hazards and others employees might encounter during harsh winter weather. Employers can learn more about the effects of low temperatures and wind speed on the skin and body and how to treat and protect employees from frostbite and hypothermia. Additional guides offer tips on staying safe at home during winter storms.

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