Loss Control Insights

When Temperatures Drop, the Potential for Accidents Rises

The “Days of Shivery” are back, reports the Farmers’ Almanac. This time-trusted weather predictor is forecasting a winter with below-average temperatures for about two-thirds of the nation and significant snow for many regions. That’s good news for winter sports enthusiasts, but potentially bad news for business owners.

According to OSHA, about 70% of injuries that occur during winter storms are the result of motor vehicle accidents.

Slips and falls are the third-leading cause of workplace injuries with a spike in the winter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

OSHA reports that 20% of winter workplace injuries are caused by prolonged exposure to the elements.

According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, an average of 11,500 snow removal-related injuries and medical emergencies are reported every year.

“Severe winter weather can lead to property damage, employee illness or injury, and possible business closures,” notes EMC Senior Engineer Larry Readout, who shares the following winter preparedness tips from the Center for Food Security and Public Health:

  • Stay informed—Monitor severe weather in your area at www.weather.gov.
  • Stockpile emergency supplies—Including emergency power, sandbags, a shovel, and road salt or ice melt.
  • Have a business emergency plan—The plan should address shelter locations on your property, access to emergency power, backup heating sources and other actions to reduce losses in the event of a storm.
  • Promote safe driving skills— Presentations, posters and internal communications are great ways to remind employees about driving techniques for wet or icy roads.
  • Eliminate the potential for slips and falls—Check outdoor and indoor walkways for any slip and fall hazards that could easily be exaggerated with snow and ice.

“There is nothing you can do to prevent winter from heading your way,” concludes Readout. “But there are a number of things you can do to prevent winter workplace accidents from heading in your direction.”