If your team works outdoors, then you might already be aware of the adverse effects that the weather can potentially have on their health. However, with the chill of the winter, there can be a whole new factor of risk that you need to keep in mind. Here, we’re going to look at some of the ways that this season can be particularly dangerous to your team and what you can do to mitigate the risks.
Slips, trips, and falls
If you work in construction, roadwork, or any other kind of work where you have some measure of control over the site you work in, such as a construction site, then you have an advantage. You can use things like de-icing salt to get rid of ice that could otherwise prove a serious health risk. Slips, trips, and falls go up significantly in the winter. If you’re not able to control the work site as effectively, then you can at least invest in making sure your team has solid and stable footwear.
Dealing with the roads
The risk of driving in the winter can be even greater than working on foot, due to the inherent risk of losing control of a car. As such, equipping any work vehicles with winter tyres and providing a health check to make sure they’re less likely to break down is key. Similarly, you should take care to monitor weather and road conditions and know when to prevent drivers from hitting the roads in the first place.
The cold and the wet
Your workers can get seriously sick if they’re left exposed to the elements for long enough. You should always take care to make sure they only spend as much time outdoors as needed, with access to dry and heated environments to recuperate. Otherwise, it’s important to equip them with waterproof workwear so they are at least as separated from their environment as possible. Hypothermia, even for a short time, can be a very severe health risk.
The matter of visibility
Aside from being colder and wetter, winter also tends to be darker than other times of the year. As such, it’s important to make sure that, when working in that darkness, your team is visible. High visibility gear greatly reduces their chances of being involved in auto accidents if they’re working by the road, for instance. Providing lighting equipment they can use to maintain visibility in their worksite is another part of tackling this risk, too.
It might not sound quite as important or as dangerous as the other risks, but burnout due to work-related stress typically increases in the winter. This is due to a range of factors, such as impediments to working due to weather conditions as well as a greater reliance on overtime due to people typically saving for or making up for Christmas spending.
Winter isn’t the only season that brings its share of health risks, but it can certainly be the riskiest one there. Hopefully, the tips above help you keep your team safe.