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.
It may sound counterintuitive, but some hikers actually get into more trouble on the trail in spring than in a harsher season like winter. The main reason for this is the seemingly good weather, which lulls less experienced hikers into a false sense of security and causes them to embark on their adventures without adequate preparation. But spring weather can be every bit as unpredictable as winter weather, which is why gearing up for adverse conditions is vital to having a good outing. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you pack for the trails:
- Dress in light layers so you can add or remove clothing as needed.
- Wear (or pack) gaiters to prevent your hiking boots and socks from getting soaked with water or mud on messy trails.
- Carry a pair of ice cleats just in case you encounter a section of trail that’s still covered in snow or ice.
- Use hiking or trekking poles to help ascertain the depth of any puddles, creeks, or streams you may have to cross. Spring rains and melting snow can make these types of crossings deceptively dangerous, so use extra caution around water.
- If your hike will span multiple days, bring a portable boot dryer—such as the DryGuy Force Dry DX—to ensure your boots are ready to go when you are.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave and continue to monitor it throughout the day so you can be aware of changing conditions.
Spring hiking is a great way to get back to nature after the long, cold winter. Use these tips in addition to the common precautions you take for every hike (packing extra water, a compass, first-aid kit, etc.) for a safe and fun experience.
Ice cleats must be sized, worn, and used according to manufacturer’s instructions in order to provide extra traction, grip, and stability on icy terrain. Failure to do so could lead to the very kind of slip-and-fall accidents ice cleats are designed to prevent.
In a similar vein, ice cleats must also be stored and cared for properly during those months when employees return to their ordinary footwear because outdoor walkways are clear of snow and ice. Taking good care of ice cleats during the off-season helps prolong product life and ensures your safety gear will perform as expected next winter. Here are some general care and storage tips that are applicable to most types of ice cleats:
- Thoroughly clean the product to remove all visible traces of dirt and salt, which can begin to degrade the rubber soles or rust the metal spikes after long-term exposure.
- While cleaning, visually inspect the soles and individual spikes for signs of damage, including rips, tears, and uneven wear. Replace any damaged cleats that you discover.
- Label or otherwise mark employee cleats so that the same pair can be distributed to the same person next winter.
- Designate a specific storage area for the cleats, such as a cabinet, closet, pegged wallboard, or (if you only have a few pairs), drawer. The storage space should be kept dry and pest-free throughout the offseason.
- Periodically check the storage environment to ensure it is holding up as expected.
Well maintained ice cleats are vital to protecting employees against injuries resulting from slip-and-fall incidents in snowy or icy conditions. Take care of your company’s winter safety gear by cleaning, inspecting, and storing ice cleats and other stabilizing footwear as recommended above.
All of the heated clothing products we sell at CozyWinters, including battery heated socks, jackets, vests, and gloves, are manufactured from quality materials that are designed to last for several seasons—so long as they are properly used and cared for. This applies not only to the garment itself, but also to the lithium ion batteries that power each piece.
Lithium ion batteries have very specific storage guidelines that, if not followed precisely, will result in damage, poor performance, and/or significantly reduced lifespan. In order to preserve your battery during periods of low or non-use, you must take the steps listed here.
- Discharge (or recharge) the battery to 40%.
- Disconnect the battery from the garment it is paired with.
- Store your lithium ion battery in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight. Long-term exposure to heat and high temperatures is guaranteed to have a negative effect on your battery and prevent it from working the next time you need it.
- Do not allow lithium ion batteries or associated wires and chargers to come into contact with water or liquids of any kind.
- If storing a lithium ion battery for more than 90 days, be sure to turn it on, run it for a while, and recharge it back up to 40% before returning to storage.
Storing your battery heated clothing for spring and summer involves more than simply folding the garment up and putting it on the top shelf in your closet. You must take special care with the lithium ion batteries that come with the apparel, especially with regard to charge level, heat and moisture exposure, and length of storage. Following the guidelines above is the best way to ensure your battery heated clothing will work as intended when you pull it out next winter.
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.
All too often, frostbite is portrayed as something that happens only in very extreme conditions, such as when a person is stranded in an inoperable vehicle for a couple of days in the midst of a blizzard.
But while that kind of dire situation certainly increases the chances of becoming frostbitten, the fact of the matter is that frostbite can begin to occur in a matter of minutes given the right temperature (below 20 degrees) and wind speed (more than 20 mph). In other words, exposed skin may be susceptible to frostbite even if you’re just shoveling the snow in your driveway or walking to the store to stock up on supplies.
To protect yourself from frostbite, it’s important to learn how to recognize and prevent this dangerous wintertime threat. Here are the basics:
Common symptoms of frostbite
- Redness or soreness of exposed skin
- Pale yellow, white, or grayish skin appearance
- Numbness, prickling, or tingling in the affected area
- Hardened, waxy looking skin
- Blister formation
- Complete loss of feeling in the affected area
- Darkening or blackening of skin in the affected area
Frostbite prevention tips
- Dress in several loose layers of clothing, including a moisture-wicking base layer, a wool or fleece insulating layer, and a wind and water-resistant outer layer.
- Wear mittens instead of gloves to keep hands and fingers warmer. If engaging in an activity where manual dexterity is required, use battery heated gloves for consistent, long lasting warmth.
- Protect feet and toes with insulated waterproof boots and wool socks. You may also consider wearing battery heated socks that provide up to 14 hours of warming power on a single charge.
- Cover your head with a knit or wool cap, beanie, or hood to help retain body heat.
- Since dehydration can speed the onset of frostbite, be sure to drink a glass of water if you plan to be outside for longer than 45 minutes.
- Take frequent breaks in a sheltered area away from the wind and snow or end your outdoor activity if the weather degrades into dangerous territory.
Frostbite isn’t something that only happens to isolated individuals in remote locations. Anyone can become a victim if the conditions are right, so take the above precautions and be on the lookout for early signs of frostbite whenever you go out in bad weather.
Some employers are highly resistant to the idea of spending money on safety gear such as ice cleats. They defend their position by saying there simply aren’t enough slip-and-fall accidents among employees or contractors to warrant the purchase or by saying it would cost too much. This leads us to ask: how much is too much to spend on employee ice cleats?
To get an answer relevant to your business, it’s important to check industry data regarding the total cost of the average slip-and-fall accident. This data is typically available through agencies like the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as industry journals and publications, and should include everything from direct worker’s compensation claims to emergency room visits, follow-ups with doctors or therapists, lost work days, lost productivity, and similar expenses.
Once you have a rough idea of what a single slip-and-fall accident might cost (the BLS puts this figure at around $28,000) you can weigh it against the following:
- The per-unit cost of ice cleats: You can purchase a single set of ice cleats from CozyWinters for as little as $11.95 with no minimum quantity required. We also offer government and corporate pricing for bulk orders, which reduces the per-unit cost even more. At that rate, you can protect more than 2,300 employees for less than the average cost of a single slip-and-fall claim.
- Employee morale: Study after study shows that happy employees who feel appreciated by employers tend to be more productive, put forth better effort, and remain in their jobs longer, leading to greater revenues and profits for companies. One of the best ways to demonstrate just how much you value employees is to show genuine concern for their safety and to make accident prevention a company-wide priority.
By any reckoning, the negligible cost of ice cleats for employees is an investment that will pay off in terms of productivity, safety, profits, and overall morale. Visit CozyWinters today to place an order or contact us for more information on government and corporate discounts on ice cleats and other employee safety gear.
For the most part, electric blankets are a very safe and cost-effective way of providing warmth and comfort in winter. This is particularly true if the blankets have an automatic shut-off feature or run on low voltage like the models offered at CozyWinters.
But just as with any other electric appliance that plugs into a wall outlet, electric blankets must be used with care in order to avoid potential short-circuiting, overheating, burning, and similar problems. Toward that end, here are some common electric blanket safety tips to keep in mind when using your warming product this winter:
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow all recommendations regarding usage and care.
- When plugged in and turned on, try to keep the blanket as flat as possible and avoid folding, creasing, or pinching the wires.
- Do not use if the fabric is frayed or worn through or if the wires or heating elements are exposed.
- Do not run the power cord or control cords under the mattress or under any rugs. Doing so could cause the protective coating to deteriorate, which would then leave the wires exposed.
- Turn off the electric blanket when unattended.
- Do not use electric blankets with infants, small children, or anyone insensitive to heat or unable to operate the controls on their own.
- Do not use electric blankets on waterbeds or mechanically adjustable beds.
- Be extra cautious when using electric blankets around pets, as the wires and cords may present chewing temptations.
- Frequently inspect your electric blanket throughout the season to ensure that it hasn’t incurred any damage and is still capable of operating safely.
Now that below-freezing overnight temperatures are a regular occurrence, you’re likely turning to your electric blanket to help keep you warm while you sleep. As long as you use the product as intended and follow the above safety tips, you should be able to enjoy the coziness and comfort of your blanket without incident for many years to come.
Long-range weather predictions can be a useful tool for helping people prepare for unseasonal or extreme conditions. While these forecasts can never be 100 percent accurate, modern technology enables meteorologists to make very reasonable assumptions about what lies ahead. Based on these forecasts, residents in target areas will know in advance if they need to stock up on emergency supplies or get out their battery-heated clothing and ice cleats a little earlier than usual.
So what’s on tap weather-wise for the 2015-2016 winter season? Numerous sources, including the National Weather Service and the old-school Farmer’s Almanac, are predicting the following:
- California will get more precipitation than usual—in the form of rain, snow, and ice—thanks in large part to El Nino. Thus it would be a good idea for business owners to buy ice cleats and other traction devices for employees not accustomed to navigating the slippery conditions.
- Major cities in the Northeast such as Boston, Philadelphia, and New York are likely to experience an above average number of storms, so slip-and-fall prevention should be a key concern to employers in those areas as well.
- Southwestern states like Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas could see unseasonably low temperatures along with more rain and even some snow. Battery-heated apparel, including fleeces and gloves, can help residents cope with the cold.
- The Mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses parts of Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, and North and South Carolina, could be subject to severe wintry conditions and heavy ice storms. Folks in these areas should have a backup generator ready to go and make sure to use ice cleats and other appropriate safety gear when walking or working outdoors.
Of course, just because you don’t see your city, state, or region listed here among the major predictions doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. We recommend preparing for the worst even as you hope for the best, so visit the CozyWinters website today to start shopping for the heated apparel, electric blankets, and ice cleats you need to get through this El Nino-fueled winter.