Let’s Not Slip Slide Away This Winter!

TripOnSnow
Not sure if this is a worker’s comp claim in the making or a break dance competition!

Last week’s “bombogenesis” storm dropped massive amounts of snow, brought howling winds and kept most people home. Power was lost, pipes froze, many an argument over Monopoly was had. But we can not overlook those that did not have the option of battling the snowbound home issues because they had to work despite the blizzard conditions.

Countless people work in professions that don’t get to have a snow day. Police, fire fighters and EMT’s are all needed when things get dicey with the weather. Hospital workers need to either cover extra shifts for those that cannot get to the hospital or will have to trudge in early…patients can not be left on their own. Electricians, utility employees, plumbers, oil delivery people, local and state road workers, EMA staff, etc. So how do you make sure that these employees stay safe in these questionable and potentially dangerous situations? Let’s a take a look at some suggestions from Property Casualty 360° on how to keep your drivers safe during wintry weather.

  1. First and foremost, make an informed decision about what is absolutely essential to have covered for your business. If the region is going to be effectively shut down by dangerous weather, you probably don’t need your sales team or support staff to come in. But if you need to put drivers on the road to take care of the community,  have an effective and known communication plan in place. Coordinate transportation among your essential staff. Perhaps people can carpool with someone who has a vehicle made to handle snow, ice, rain etc. The fewer vehicles on the road during snow storms allows road crews to more efficiently and effectively plow.
  2. If your business involves providing services that can not be delayed or are more needed during inclement weather, be sure that your drivers prepared.
    1. Review basic safety for driving in icy/snowy conditions.
    2. Ensure that they dress appropriately for the weather. They need to have solid, winter boots; multiple layers of warm winter wear; plus hats and gloves.
    3. Ensure that all drivers are properly trained and licensed (if applicable) for the vehicles they will be using.
    4. Properly maintain your vehicles and have them regularly inspected by a certified mechanic.
    5. Provide each vehicle with a safety kit that includes: flashlight (with extra batteries); tow chain; traction aids such as kitty litter or sand; emergency flares and a first aid kit; jumper cables; warm blankets and a warm, dry change of clothes; cellphone (with charger) or a two-way radio; and some snacks and water.
  3. Train your employees what to do if they ever get stranded in their vehicle
    1. Stay with the vehicle and call for assistance.
    2. Call into to report the issue to the supervisor.
    3. Unless you can visibly see help within 100 yards, STAY IN THE VEHICLE. It’s very easy to become disoriented in swirling snow.
    4. Make sure to turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights; put out any reflective or brightly colored cloth on the antenna and pop the hood or light a road flare to warn other drivers and help where you are.
    5. Do not leave the engine running constantly. In a snow storm there is a good chance of the tailpipe becoming snowed in and the exhaust leaking into the vehicle. This could spell total disaster. Instead, run the engine for about 10 minutes every hour.
    6. Watch for frostbite/hypothermia. Keep your limbs moving to help keep your blood flowing efficiently. Wiggle around and keep yourself awake; dance in your seat and put on a karaoke concert…anything to keep you moving and awake.
  4. Know where your drivers are! Winter weather is going to slow down the normal operation and timing of jobs. Know exactly who you have out and make it mandatory that they check in if they take the work vehicle directly home. Do not assume that everyone is accounted for…this could lead to a delay in seeking an employee that may have run into trouble.
  5. If you are sending out delivery/repair personnel, make sure you clients understand that deliveries/repairs will not be made unless there is a clear and safe path available to your employees. And make sure your employees understand they should not put themselves at risk for injury if a client fails to comply.

A little preparation and training can go a long way in protecting your employees, your business and ultimately your clients.

 

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