The best time to prepare for the struggles of winter is before they happen, and a plan of action is only as good as its implementation and dissemination. To ensure that every staff member knows the proper cold weather safety procedures, consider implementing a computerized maintenance management system. A CMMS provides crystal clear instructions, guides, contact information and even push notifications to every staff member at the touch of a button. Keep your staff safe by being prepared for every situation.
Here are the top three ways to prepare for the cold season ahead:
1. Recognize the symptoms of cold stress
The effects of cold stress have been outlined in a previous FacilityDude blog post, but it's important to reiterate the seriousness of cold stress, which includes hypothermia and frostbite. Staff should be properly trained to recognize the early symptoms of these ailments, because the sooner they're spotted, the easier they can be treated. According to the Mayo Clinic, initial symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, dizziness and lack of coordination. Signs of frostbite are numbness and waxy-looking skin.
2. Know when to call for help
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommended that all workers be trained to know when to call for help. Some minor injuries may be treatable with simple first-aid, but it's important to contact emergency services when injuries are more serious.
3. Provide proper equipment
If your facility deals with many different teams that work out in the field, it can be a large task to ensure that each one is properly outfitted with all of the proper equipment. Consider creating a checklist of all the proper winter weather gear that each team will require. This includes proper clothing such as coats, hats, gloves and boots. It can also include more specialized equipment pertinent to the job at hand. The tools used during the summer might not do the same work in a freezing environment. And of course, there should be emergency equipment like blankets, hot packs, and food, should there be a risk of getting snowed in or trapped.
4. Keep communication open
OSHA made further recommendations such as keeping lines of communication open during severe weather. Staff should be reachable at all times and should provide status reports to their supervisors. If severe weather is impending, a CMMS can push out warnings and suggest a course of action.
These tips can help prevent accidents and keep staff safe during the harsh winter weather. Always remember that training and preparedness are the best tools for avoiding injury on the job.