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Four tips for working safely in winter

By: Debbie Rogers
February 26, 2016

Extreme cold weather is a reality across Canada during the winter months. It turns routine activities into occupational health and safety hazards within the workplace; from workers being struck by falling snow to people tripping over snow-covered obstacles and slipping on icy surfaces.

We cannot predict what can occur because of freezing temperatures but we can educate and help our employees stay safe by promoting internally the following tips:

Dress appropriately. Winter weather conditions are deceptive: the same temperature can feel a lot colder due to wind chill. Therefore, not considering that factor when getting dressed for work can put security guards in harm’s way if their responsibilities involve being outdoors even for short periods of time. People also have to be mindful of not dressing too warmly to prevent high body temperature and reduce shock to your body when you go outside. Employees should:

  • Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia and frostbite,

  • Dress in layers that are easily removable or addable as needed,

  • If working outdoors, take frequent warm-up breaks inside,

  • If working indoors, slow their pace when about to step outside.

Stay alert. The accumulation of snow or ice can cause major injuries as sometimes danger is out of sight, i.e roofs, trees, machinery positioned high up. Security guards have to pay attention to their surroundings and use all their senses to react in a timely manner. This means:

  • Watch out for slipping and fall hazards on icy surfaces outdoors,

  • Beware of oddly-shaped heaps of snow or changes in surface heights as they might hide obstacles,

  • Report any equipment or supplies left in the walkways, on the floor or hanging dangerously.

  • Report any accumulated snow or ice that can melt at buildings’ entrances.

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Move about carefully. Walking outdoors in the winter requires more vigilance than taking a stroll in the summer. Employees are encouraged, if not required, to:

  • Wear appropriate footwear – and check soles regularly to ensure treads and grips are in good condition,

  • Use handles and guardrails,

  • Take shorter steps and to not hurry or run across potentially treacherous surfaces,

  • Slow their pace and allow extra time to get to their destination when outdoors.

Make yourself visible. Sunset occurs early during the winter months and, during the hours of darkness, the ambient light can be quite faint. Security guards have to behave in a way that makes them visible at all times by:

  • Walking in designated pedestrian areas,

  • Wearing light-colored or reflective clothing when circulating at night,

  • Reporting or replacing any burned out lights or inadequate lighting,

  • Carrying a flashlight at all times.

Last but not least, as harmless as freshly fallen snow can seem, it is important to remember that this snow may actually cover once-visible hazards or create new ones: companies have to raise occupational health & safety awareness when the temperatures are starting to get warmer.

 

At GardaWorld, we believe that avoiding risks is good but removing them or raising awareness within the workplace is the best strategy to avoid injuries altogether.