Winter weather brings with it a large number of unique risks depending upon where in the U.S. your facility is located. For some parts of the country, even a light dusting of snow presents some serious risk for drivers who are unaccustomed to such conditions, while others can be blasted by blizzard conditions that necessitate all kinds of contingency plans.
With that in mind, every company should have a unique approach to prepping its facility and workers to stay safe when winter weather arrives — in any form. The following tips should help you do just that:
1) Look over all risk factors for the facility
If you don't have a clear understanding of all the ways in which cold temperatures, snow, sleet, ice and more can negatively impact your facility, now is the time to evaluate, according to EHS Today. Go through your entire facility and all the grounds surrounding it to identify areas where puddles could form, insulation needs to be replaced and so on, all in service of identifying and smoothing over unique risks.
2) Put together or review existing emergency plans
Along similar lines, once you know what risks your facility faces, you can start crafting a plan to respond appropriately, whether it's a temporary fix that would only arise in certain situations, or it's something that needs to be addressed in more of a long-term way, EHS Today said. Once such a plan is in place, make sure everyone knows what it is and understands their part in enacting it as conditions warrant.
3) Equip employees to avoid cold-related hazards
One of the most underrated threats to personal safety during the winter is when employees are exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time, according to Manufacturing.net. In industrial settings like your warehouse, that will often present itself when loading or unloading trucks, or those who work on open loading docks. Make sure workers have heavy-duty gloves, head protection and so on to keep them safe.
4) Make sure you have signs on hand
Something as simple as posting signs around your facility where the risk of ice sheets forming or other unique winter hazards present themselves can be an important part of organizational safety, Manufacturing.net added. Much like you might post signs about various risks within your warehouse, just this simple visual heads up can make employees more cognizant of hazards.
5) Keep the roof clear and drained
Some facilities aren't meant to withstand the accumulated weight of significant snowfall, or the water that results when snow melts, so you need to make sure it's cleared off regularly, according to Wise Businessware. You will have to put employees in charge of shoveling off the side of the facility, install appropriate drainage or both.
6) Insulate pipes that run along exterior walls
If your building has any water pipes that are near exterior walls, bitterly cold temperatures can increase your risk of having a pipe burst, Wise Businessware noted. Even if you're just wrapping them in insulation, that can be a great way to reduce that risk here, saving you money in the long run while also helping keep the entire facility safe.