Michigan winters can be treacherous, particularly for people who must work outside or battle the elements on a regular basis.
With winter just around the corner, now is the perfect time for employers and workers to ensure they know how to prevent work-related accidents stemming from cold, ice or snow.
What can workers do?
If you work outside or drive a lot for your job, you can take the following steps to stay safe while working:
- Layer clothing to keep comfortable and warm
- Wear waterproof boots
- Keep an eye on the daily weather forecast
- Slow down and practice defensive driving on slippery roads
- Work slowly to prevent exhaustion
- Have your cellphone with you and charged
- Take shelter in a warm place if conditions are dangerously cold
- Wear high-visibility gear
These precautions can ensure workers stay safe and avoid accidents like slipping and falling. They can also prevent conditions like hypothermia and frostbite.
What can employers do?
In addition to the steps individuals take on the job, employers must also address worker safety during the winter. Such measures include:
- Providing weather-related training to all workers
- Having first-aid kits on site
- Making sure there is a warm, safe place for workers to take breaks
- Staying in communication with workers
- Canceling jobs or limiting the time workers are outside on extremely cold, windy or snowy days
- Ensuring workers have fall protection systems while working at heights
- Providing proper clothing to workers who do not have it
In some cases, state or federal regulations specifically direct employers to put these precautions in place. However, even if there is no law mandating certain protections, employers can choose to implement them to keep workers safe.
Taking winter weather seriously
Winter weather in Michigan can be brutal and life-threatening. High winds, low temperatures and icy conditions can increase the likelihood that someone can get severely hurt or sick while they are outside.
Unfortunately, too many people downplay the risks of winter, either because they do not know how bad things can get or think taking these precautions makes them appear weak.
However, no worker should risk or lose their lives on a job because parties did not do enough to keep them safe. Thus, when everyone takes winter weather seriously and prepares accordingly, the risk of accidents can drop dramatically.
There are employers who do not take the necessary steps to protect their employees. One of the great contributions unions make to the workplace is to force employers to take care of the safety of their employers. If you are concerned about worker safety and do not have a union at work contact us. We will put you in contact with a union that can answer your questions and help you organize a union. There is no charge for this service.