The Weather Outside is Frightful

By Sue Winkler, Director, EngageHR
Published December 4, 2018

winter weatherWe may not have been ready for the storm last week, but it sure launched us knee-deep into winter, literally.  When the seasons change, it presents a great opportunity to remind employees about the safety risks each season can present. Here are some tips to share with your employees to help keep them and their families safe in the coming months.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.  According to the National Safety Council, December and January report the most carbon monoxide poisonings. Snow can pile up and block ventilation. Be sure you understand the risks of exposure in your home and take the proper precautions.
  • Protect those hands. Be sure to have mittens with you at all times.  Mittens keep your hands and fingers warmer than gloves. It’s also important to wear something on your hands to keep you from putting your hands in your pockets which can increase your risk of losing your balance and falling.
  • Remember shoveling is exercise. So warm up and stretch to help your muscles prepare for the workout. And avoid caffeine and nicotine before any strenuous work. These can cause your blood vessels to constrict and increase your heart rate.
  • Keep blankets in your car. Even a short time on the side of the road can be very cold!  And for longer trips, pack an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, an emergency warning light, non-perishable snacks, and bottles of water.  
  • Know the early signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If you have employees who work outside, be sure there is an action plan in place and that employees are trained to handle this serious condition. 
  • Give kids extra protection. Add extra layers.  Kids get colder faster than adults. The best fabric for the base layer is something that will wick away moisture, like nylon. Even in the winter, serious sunburn can occur, so keep the sunscreen and lip balm handy. And don’t forget the sunglasses!  
  • Equip your employees with an immediate way to call for help if they are on the road or working outside. There are different types of apps and monitoring systems available that are fast and easy to use.  Year-round, these systems can be beneficial for any employee working alone.  
  • Don’t track snow and ice inside. Be sure you have moisture absorbing mats at all entrances and check them throughout the day. Designate someone to ensure the walkways inside and out are free of water, snow, and ice.

Many of these tips are not new. But like every effective safety initiative, reminders matter. So, communicate safety to your employees often. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help ensure that you have plenty of helpful information to share with your team.

Please join our Safety Roundtables to learn from other organizations about these topics and more.  HR Source members can also contact the HR Hotline any time with safety-related questions at 800-448-4584 or

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