October 29, 2020
By Rebecca Batisto
Some people find the first fall of snow magical. But for workers’ comp insurance agents, they can see it as something else: a sign that winter time workplace injuries will be on the rise.
Slips, falls, and accidents are incredibly common during the winter and aren’t necessarily due to negligence. Anyone can take a wrong step onto a patch of ice under some snow and go flying. However, if that happens when they’re on the job, it’s the workplace’s responsibility. That’s something employers want to avoid at all costs, even if they have comprehensive worker’s compensation insurance.
If you want to be proactive in helping your clients prevent claims before they happen, please feel free to send them this list of winter time safety tips for the workplace!
Doing your own plowing and shoveling might seem like a great way to save a few dollars, but it could result in some significant workplace injuries.
It isn’t easy shoveling snow every single day. If you’re not in shape for that kind of work, you (or someone on your staff) could easily hurt their back. This would result in workplace claims, plus lose you a skilled worker while they recover.
The easiest way to fix this is to hire a third-party to take care of all snow removal for you. They should be able to plow out your parking lot and remove all snow on walkways, making it easy for your employees to access the workplace.
The most common accident in the wintertime is slipping on ice. When you’re dealing with freezing temperatures, ice is just one of those things you need to deal with. Thankfully, the solution is simple: salt your walkways.
Hiring a third-party to take care of this can help you avoid mishaps while also ensuring that it’s reliably completed every day.
The pandemic has been incredibly hard on everyone in 2020, but one positive that came out of it is proof that working from home is a viable productivity strategy.
In the event of a snowstorm or other extreme weather event, forcing your employees to come into the office can be dangerous. Instead, why not rely on the at-home work processes that you set up earlier in 2020? If there are meetings, take care of them on Zoom.
Of course, this might not work for everyone, especially in the case of physical labor at your workplace. However, keeping as many of your employees home as possible will minimize the risks.
If you have employees who work outside during the wintertime, the cold weather can be a significant workplace injury risk.
Hypothermia isn’t as rare as you might think, and workers who aren’t appropriately dressed for the weather can end up with frostbite and other cold-related maladies. The easiest way to deal with this is to create an outdoor winter dress code. It could include mandating wearing long underwear under clothes, hats that cover the ears, waterproof boots, winter jackets, and more.
You could even go so far as offering your employees disposable hand warmers. These can be bought in bulk and could improve your employees’ comfort level if they are working outside, plus prevent careless mistakes due to frosty, slow fingers.
In addition, you can also keep a supply of safety glasses on hand for employee use. They are very useful when doing work outside, especially on windy or snowy days.
Driving in the wintertime can be dangerous, especially when there is ice on the roads. If you have employees who need to drive to do their jobs, winter road safety is paramount.
Remind your employees of winter driving best practices. The last thing you want is for there to be an accident because of ill-preparedness.
Often, workers will use company cars and trucks for professional business. If they get in an accident in one of these vehicles, it can be incredibly damaging for your business. The best way to avoid these situations is to make sure your vehicles are fully prepared for the winter.
Do they have snow tires on them? If not, they should be. Do you do regular vehicle maintenance? If not, send them in to be checked. How is the air ventilation system in the car? If workers are spending long hours behind the wheel, you need to ensure they remain warm. These necessary precautions can help prevent worker’s comp claims due to road-related accidents.
Preparation is the best way to avoid accidents. With this in mind, it can be a great idea to create a wintertime best practices plan for all employees.
This plan can include all of the tips in this blog, as well as ones that are specific to your workplace. You don’t necessarily need to have a dedicated training session with all of your workers to review the document, but make sure that everyone reads it when the cold weather starts to roll in.
A great way to improve your winter best-practices plan is to ask for employee input.
They are the ones who are actually out there doing the job. They might know about certain workplace risks that you don’t. By asking them to contribute, you can cover all your bases. By giving employees a say in the winter safety plan, you will also be involving them in the process, meaning they will be far more likely to follow those rules if they come up with them.
This tip should be a year-long practice, but it’s especially crucial in the wintertime.
If there is an accident in the workplace, let’s say someone slips, falls, and hurts their head, you need to have a fully stocked first aid kit in the office. Ensure that you have someone trained to administer the first aid, including wrapping bandages, cleaning wounds, and more. Often, this little bit of preparation can prevent a minor injury from becoming a significant one.
Some workplaces are surprised to discover that their worker’s compensation insurance doesn’t cover many of the most common winter-related injuries and accidents.
Obviously, you want to find out about this as soon as possible and rectify it before the cold weather arrives. If you are unsure what your coverage contains, contact your insurance agent to ask. If anything is missing, make sure it’s added to your policy to make sure you’re fully covered.
Winter can be dangerous for employees, especially if they are working outside. A quick call to your clients to make sure they are aware of these risks and reassure them that they’re fully covered can pay dividends. Even sending them this list of tips can get them thinking about winter-safety and proactively prevent weather-related workplace injuries.
And if you’re looking to find new insurance clients this winter, please feel free to contact us today!