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Winter Hazards

Winter is almost here and with a new season comes new hazards that we need to assess.

Check out some of our workplace winter hazards you could identify in your workplace.

Muscle Damage

With physical tasks our bodies may require a 5 minute pre-work warm up and stretch to ensure muscles are warm!

Pulled muscles are more likely to occur in cold weather because your muscles tighten up and contract in the cold. They will not move as quickly in the cold and could slow down your work productivity.

A warmed muscle contracts more forcefully and relaxes more quickly. This increases speed and strength and reduces likelihood of muscles being overstretched and causing injury.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking plenty of water tends to be a forgotten practice once summer has ended, but in winter you can become dehydrated too. Dehydration reduces blood flow to the skin which can lead to cold injuries such as hyperthermia.

Remember to keep up your water intake. 8 glasses of water is the health organisations recommended intake.

Watch Your Footing

Slips, trips and fall incidents tend to increase in winter due to icy or wet floors and surfaces due to rain, frost and snow. Pay attention for icy patches on the ground and your footing when getting on and off equipment that has been left outdoors.

Check pathways regulary and place controls such as:

  • Salt / kitty litty or gravel on icy pathways

  • Use mats for people to wipe their wet and muddy feet on or walk on

  • Use mops / towels to clean up the water / mud

  • Wet floor / slippery surface signage

Poor lighting can also be a cause of slips, trips and falls. Ensure good lighting is available in work areas and provide additional lighting if required.

Be Cautious When Driving

Combinations of water, oil and ice on the road can make driving more hazardous in winter. Reduce your speed to suit the weather and traffic conditions. Check your vehicles tyres tread depth, tyre air pressure and breaks.

Fog and Sunstrike can also be a hazard. Use your headlights, follow at a safe distance, have sunglasses available and keep your windshield clean to avoid glare.

Dress Warm and Stay Dry

Keep hands, feet and your head covered if you are working outdoors. Opt for layers of clothing as these can be removed as required, when the day gets warmer. Use waterproof clothing when needed and remove / change if they become soaked. By keeping warm and dry your muscles work more efficiently and you reduce the likelihood of injury, hypothermia or frostbite.

If you notice another worker is shivering or their skin / lips are changing to a purple, blue or grey take them inside as soon as possible and remove any wet layers and apply more warm layers to them. However do not warm them up too quickly.

Other Hazards?

Every business is different and we encourage that you and your team discuss the other hazards that your team could come across during winter and ensure that these are included in your risk registers and risk assessments.

Think about the best hierarchy of control for the risk these hazards bring.

Need help with identifying hazards and controlling risk? Let us know, our consultants have the solutions.

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