With summer in the air, it’s easy to forget about the safety protocols involved when working in icy environments. But ice safety should be a year round concern for employers, especially when considering the true cost of not enforcing safety measures such as wearing ice cleats. This is because ice is a leading cause of slip-and-fall accidents in winter, and slip-and-fall accidents themselves make up a large percentage of annual worker compensation claims. In fact, here are some eye-opening statistics about slip, trip, and fall type incidents from the US Department of Labor and OSHA:
- Make up approximately 25% of all general industry accidents
- Account for more than 95 million lost work days annually
- Trigger 15% of all accidental workplace deaths (second only to motor vehicle accidents)
- Are the leading cause of accidents in restaurants, hotels, and public buildings
- Result in more than $1.8 billion worth of worker’s compensation claims each year
- Are a contributing factor in steeply rising insurance rates (currently averaging 30% per annum)
These costs, both in terms of real money and lost productivity, show why it’s important for business owners to stay on top of ice safety enforcement even in the warmer months. Things to do now include updating safety posters and reminders in break rooms and locker rooms; reviewing disciplinary procedures for employees that fail to wear ice cleats when required; inspecting stored ice cleats to ensure the storage environment is holding up well; and visiting CozyWinters to order new equipment for recent hires.
Once your employees realize how serious you are about enforcing ice safety they will begin following the rules more diligently, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep the conversation going year round.
Trench foot is a painful ailment that affects the skin, tissue, and nerves in the feet. It is caused by prolonged exposure to damp conditions or lengthy immersion in cold, unsanitary water, and can result in numbness, swelling, discoloration, blistering, and bleeding under the skin. If not identified and treated in a timely manner, gangrene may set in.
Although trench foot is most commonly associated with the deplorable conditions faced by soldiers in World War I, it is still a threat in modern times. People who work in and around water, including loggers, fishermen, and sewer inspectors, as well as soldiers, sailors, and Coast Guard personnel, may all be at risk and should therefore take the following precautions to help prevent trench foot:
- Change into clean, dry shoes and socks as frequently as possible during the work shift
- Wear special waterproof sock liners to keep feet dry
- Sprinkle talcum powder on feet, toes, and the insides of shoes or boots
- Rotate between two or more pairs of work shoes or boots to ensure starting the shift with dry footwear
- Wash and dry feet thoroughly after work
Employers can also help prevent trench foot by making a boot dryer available at the workplace. CozyWinters sells both wall-mounted and portable industrial boot dryers that can dry from 2 to 60 pairs of boots quickly and completely. We also accept custom orders for nonstandard configurations and capacities, so don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your commercial boot dryer needs.
While certainly not as common as it once was, trench foot can still be an issue for workers and service people in positions that involve long-term exposure to water. Fortunately, the condition can be prevented by taking the precautionary steps listed above and using boot dryers in the workplace.
Working in extreme cold puts you at risk for hypothermia, frostbite, and similar health emergencies. When snow is also involved, the risks expand to include slip-and-fall accidents, dehydration, exhaustion, and more. To prevent succumbing to any of these hazards, we recommend implementing these safety tips when working in snow.
- Wear ice cleats to provide extra traction and stabilization on icy or snowy surfaces. Take shorter steps than usual, but otherwise maintain an ordinary gait.
- Use proper lifting form (bend at the knees, keep your back straight, and lift with your legs) and remove small amounts of snow at a time when manually shoveling sidewalks, driveways, and parking spaces.
- Wear sunglasses when working outdoors on bright days to eliminate snow glare and improve visibility.
- Use a bright orange or yellow reflective safety vest over your clothing to help drivers see you.
- When working near roads or driveways, be on the lookout for skidding or sliding cars since it’s easy for drivers to lose control of their vehicles in snowy conditions.
- Use extra caution when climbing or walking on ladders, roofs, and other high places. Be aware that heavy snow adds weight that can weaken structures and cause a collapse.
- Wear a flashing light on your safety vest or helmet when working outdoors at night. A flashing light attracts attention from motorists and other pedestrians more quickly than a steady light.
- Dress appropriately for the elements by wearing battery heated vests, gloves, and socks, and take frequent breaks within a sheltered space.
Whether you are an employee whose regular job duties take you outdoors in winter or are an individual performing maintenance and upkeep on your own property, working in the snow can be a dangerous activity. Ensure your safety by following the tips listed here and using good judgment when laboring outdoors.