From a health and safety perspective, the winter workplace is different kind of animal from the summer workplace. Things that are not important in June become very important as we approach the holiday season. So here are three workplace dangers to look out for this winter.
1. Shop Capacity, Warehouse Capacity and Pallet-Racking Capacity
No matter what line of work you are in, chances are that the holidays bring in more customers. Whether it’s because of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s, the winter months are usually the time of year when a workplace is pushed to its limits due to the welcome increase in customers.
Both online and offline, the fourth quarter consistently is the biggest time for sales in U.S. businesses. This means that shop floors become a hazard as more customers pour through the doors, warehouses become a constant shift of new orders as the old orders pour out and pallet-racking systems are full to bursting with stock ready to be sold. Because of all this, you may feel that you have less time than at any other point in the year to ensure that everything is in safe working order.
That is the wrong way of looking at it. Safety becomes more important than ever when your workplace is being used or even overused. Shop floors need regulation when they are full of customers. Pathways need to be clear of obstructions when your warehouse is at its busiest, and you most need a pallet racking inspection when your pallet-racking systems are full to the brim with stock.
2. Slips, Trips and Falls
The two most dangerous kinds of floor surfaces are most common in winter: frozen and wet. Both are treacherously slippery but thankfully, there is something that employers and employees can do.
OSHA offers plenty of advice on this topic. Some of the advice, of course, is fairly obvious. Signposting, drying wet floors and avoiding “undue speed” when walking can all help to avoid slips, trips and falls.
However, the less-obvious advice also is just as important. Investing in properly gripping footwear for all employees and investing in floor surfaces coated with grit are great ways to maintain friction even when a surface is wet. Add to this good lighting – another OSHA recommended step – can help reduce slips, trips and falls (aka: the trifecta of wintertime danger).
3. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
It goes without saying that your workplace will be cold, but this simple problem can lead to lead to more complex ones if ignored. The common cold, frostbite and hypothermia are some of the well-known dangers stemming from cold working conditions.
However, it is important to remember that cold working conditions can also lead to dehydration, something that many employers should bear in mind when their staff ask to bring drinks into the workspace. In addition to creating a warmer environment, dressing warm and eating are also important for staving off cold. If your employees are required to work in cold conditions, all of these things need to be considered.
Investing in safety this winter may seem like unneeded stress when you already are so snowed under with extra business. However, without proper safety precautions, this extra business can be a recipe for disaster. If you prepare for these winter dangers, then your staff and your customers will appreciate it.
About the author Justin O’Sullivan is a safety enthusiast, writer, and the founder of Storage Equipment Experts. He is a SEMA approved racking inspector who delivers pallet racking inspections and racking inspection training all over the UK.