MIOSHA, WCA offer worker safety tips during winter

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) and Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency (WCA) are reminding employers and employees to use caution when working outdoors in snow and cold.

“Every employer’s safety and health program should address protection of their employees from hazards due to extreme weather,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. “Providing appropriate equipment and training for adverse weather conditions is key to protecting a company’s most valuable asset, its workers.”

Making sure the workplace is safe also makes good business sense.

“Worker injuries can negatively affect a business’s bottom line, resulting in increased workers’ compensation and insurance costs, overtime, and lost work days for employees,” said WCA Director Mark Long. “By taking the proper safety precautions this winter, job providers can protect workers from nasty slips and falls, and illnesses that will cost them and their employees in the future.”

Lowering workers’ comp costs save employers on overhead expenses, giving them the resources to expand, hire new workers and increase salaries.

Tips for workplace safety include:

  • Keep all walkways cleared of ice and snow; use de-icing materials.
  • Clearly mark and light all walkways and passageways.
  • Take slow, small steps to walk safely on slippery surfaces.
  • Avoid carrying heavy loads that may offset your balance.
  • Clearly mark or barricade hazardous areas.
  • Take extra precaution when entering and exiting vehicles.
  • Dress appropriately, including three layers of loose-fitting clothing for better insulation; a hat or hood; liner under a hard hat; knit face mask; insulated gloves; and insulated, waterproof boots.
  • Take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow yourself to warm up.
  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue; energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system; work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking warm liquids; avoid caffeine.
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods.
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