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Fall/Winter 2002 Volume 18

Feature Articles

When the temperature starts to dip, losses start to rise. Unless you take the necessary precautions, cold weather conditions can quickly result in costly losses to your business. The following winter loss control tips have been compiled to help you and your employees enjoy an accident and loss-free season.

Protect against sprinkler freeze-up
Sprinkler freeze-up can render your sprinkler system useless.

  • Make sure sufficient heat is provided in all sprinkler areas.
  • Make drain tests regularly to check water pressure and alarms.
  • Replace wet systems with dry pipe or antifreeze loop systems.

Prepare for Winter Driving
Driving in winter means cold weather, snow, sleet and ice.

  • Make sure vehicles are prepared by checking brakes, tires, windshield wipers and antifreeze level throughout the season.
  • All vehicles should also be equipped with winter survival kits.

Walk The Winter Walk
Encourage employees to take the following precautions to reduce the likelihood of slips and falls.

  • When walking across ice or snow, take short flat steps.
  • Wear flat shoes with slip resistant soles.
  • When entering a building, shake umbrellas outside and clean boots on floor mats or carpet.
  • Keep entryways clean and dry.

Dress for Safety
If you have to work outside, don’t worry about being fashionable. Keep warm and protected from the elements.

  • Dress in layers, with cotton close to your body and an outer windproof layer.
  • Wear water resistant boots.
  • Use liners for hard hats and wear mittens.

Remove Snow And Ice As Quickly As Possible
Poor snow removal procedures will hide defective conditions of walkways and parking areas and double the risk of accidents.

  • Do not allow piles of plowed snow to remain in parking lanes after other snow has melted.
  • Remember to adequately salt walkways.
  • Do not allow ice to accumulate on parking lots.

Up On The Rooftop
Monitor roof conditions throughout the winter, removing buildups of snow and ice as soon as possible. However, do not send workers onto the roof if it is in danger of collapse or during severe weather conditions.

Practice Safe Heating
Portable heaters may bring warmth to your area, but they also bring additional risks.

  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn.
  • If you use a kerosene heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer.
  • When using a kerosene heater always keep a door or window open slightly to reduce the chance of carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector in the immediate area.

With its cold weather and often stormy conditions, winter presents many safety challenges - both indoor and out. Being prepared and following these safety tips can help you, your employees and customers stay safer throughout the season.

“The workers in this country, and the organizations that employ them, deserve the very best performance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),” said John Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor. “The recent restructuring of OSHA realigns our resources and functions to produce the best results in reducing workplace injuries and illnesses,” he added.

Some of the highlights of OSHA restructuring include:

  • A new dedicated compliance assistance organization formalizes efforts to expand compliance programs, training, outreach and education programs.
  • New offices created by the reorganization include the Office of Small Business Assistance, Office of Partnerships and Recognition and the Office of Outreach Services and Alliances.
  • Unification of the Directorates of Safety and Health Standards into one organization that will address both regulatory and non-regulatory approaches for safety and health standards and guidelines.

Other changes taking place under the restructuring plan include changes to better monitor and measure the agency’s performance and track its progress against strategic objectives.

To learn more about how OSHA restructuring will affect your business, visit

Checking roof areas for the following items before snow, high winds, and other associated winter weather problems set in may prevent costly damage during adverse weather conditions.

  • Field Membrane — Walk over the roof area to see if anything looks out of place.
  • Perimeter Flashings — Check for securement and any openings that would allow water to enter.
  • Penetration Flashings — All penetrations should be checked to ensure they are sealed and secured.
  • Roof Related Sheet Metal — Check securement, sealed joint laps, and missing components.
  • Drainage — Make sure all drains are open and are allowing water to exit.
  • The following items are also often overlooked prior to winter setting in, and should be checked for any deficiencies: ductwork, door seals, open joints in walls, skylights, penetrations through walls.

By making sure all these items are checked prior to winter, building owners can save themselves a few headaches and some money.

[This checklist was developed by Benchmark, Inc., a national roofing consulting firm in Cedar Rapids, IA.]

In preparation for cold weather, vehicles should be equipped with winter survival kits. These kits should contain:

  • Cell phone
  • Flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • Sand or kitty litter (for traction)
  • Ice scraper, snow brush and small shovel
  • Blankets
  • Warning devices (flares, reflectors)

For extended trips, keep food, water, extra blankets and required medication on hand.

If you think ergonomics programs are just for big businesses, think again. According to OSHA, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for 34 percent of all workday illnesses and injuries among all types and sizes of businesses. The economic impact of MSDs is even more frightening, with the average claim settlement currently more than $52,000.

What can a small to medium-sized business do to reduce the incidence of MSDs and its associated cost? Simple. Develop an ergonomics program that takes a basic, systematic approach and offers a common-sense strategy for eliminating unnecessary MSDs from your workplace.

Good ergonomic programs focus on ways to reduce costs to companies by reducing injuries, absenteeism and errors and maximizing productivity. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health suggests the following seven components for an effective ergonomics program:

  • Look for signs of a potential MSD problem, such as frequent worker reports of aches and pains, or job tasks that require repetitive, forceful exertions.
  • Show management commitment in addressing possible problems and encouraging worker involvement in problem-solving activities.
  • Offer training to expand management's and worker's abilities to evaluate potential MSD problems.
  • Gather data to identify jobs or work conditions that are problematic.
  • Identify effective controls for tasks that pose a risk of MSDs and evaluate these approaches once they have been instituted.
  • Emphasize the importance of early detection and treatment of MSDs.
  • Minimize risk factors for MSDs when planning new work processes and operations.

According to studies conducted by Cornell University, good ergonomic programs are always cost-effective, saving businesses more than they cost.

A basic program of educating workers in ergonomics and the prevention of MSDs is in a company’s best interest and will result in more effective work practices.

Your EMC agent can put you in touch with an EMC Risk Improvement professional who can help you develop a workable ergonomics program for your business.

Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold that results in a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities. Hypothermia is brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapse and exhaustion.

If either is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate help. Warm the person’s trunk first. Put the person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a victim food or drink containing caffeine or alcohol.

In January 2000, the Petroleum Equipment Institute reported a sharp increase in refueling fires that could not be attributed to a running engine or cigarette smoking, the leading known causes of such fires. To date over 150 refueling fires have been documented that appear to have been caused by a discharge of static electricity.

Static electricity may build up when a driver re-enters the vehicle during fueling. When the driver then returns to the vehicle fill pipe during or at the end of refueling, the static may discharge at the fill point, potentially causing a flash fire or a small sustained fire from the gasoline refueling vapors.

The primary way drivers can avoid static electricity problems at the gas pump is to stay outside the vehicle while refueling. It may be a temptation to get back in the car when it’s cold. But the average fill-up takes only two minutes, and staying outside the vehicle will greatly minimize the likelihood of any build up of static electricity that could be discharged at the nozzle.

In the event a driver experiences a fire when refueling, leave the nozzle in the fill pipe of the vehicle and back away from the vehicle. Notify the station attendant immediately to shut off all dispensing devices and pumps with emergency controls. If the facility is unattended, use the emergency shutdown button to shut off the pump and use the emergency intercom to summon help.

Drivers who cannot avoid getting back into the vehicle during refueling should discharge any static away from the fill point upon exiting the car and before going back to the pump nozzle. Static may be safely discharged by touching a metal part of the vehicle, such as the door, or some other metal surface, with a bare hand.

In addition to stopping static buildup, drivers should also remember these safety tips to avoid refueling fires and other related refueling problems.

  • Turn off the vehicle’s engine while refueling. Put the vehicle in park and/or set the emergency brake. Disable or turn off any auxiliary source of ignition such as a camper or trailer heater, cooking units or pilot lights.
  • Use only the refueling latch provided on the gasoline dispenser nozzle — never jam the nozzle open.
  • Do not over-fill or top-off your vehicle tank, which can cause gasoline spillage.
  • Avoid prolonged breathing of gasoline vapors. Use gasoline only in open areas that get plenty of fresh air. Keep your face away from the nozzle or container opening.
  • When dispensing gasoline into a container, use only a UL-approved safety can and place it on the ground when refueling. Containers should never be filled while inside a vehicle or its trunk, the bed of a pickup truck or the floor of a trailer.
  • When filling a portable container, manually control the nozzle valve and keep the nozzle in contact with the container throughout the filling process.
  • Place cap tightly on the container after filling — do not use containers that do not seal properly.
  • If gasoline spills on the container, make sure it has evaporated before you place the container in your vehicle.
  • When transporting gasoline in a portable container, make sure it is secured against tipping and sliding, and never leave it in direct sunlight or in the trunk of a car.
  • Keep gasoline away from your eyes and skin; it may cause irritation. Remove gasoline-soaked clothing immediately.
  • Use gasoline as a motor fuel only. Never use gasoline to wash your hands or as a cleaning solvent.


Information on fleet safety, job hazard analysis, material handling, safety meetings and trenching and evacuation is now available online at Policyholder Information & Resources.


Beginning January 1, 2003, employers will be required to record work-related hearing loss cases. Detailed information on OSHA's record keeping requirements is available at


According to a recent OSHA study, forklift accidents result in approximately 95,000 injuries annually. As a result, OSHA issued a compliance directive for a new forklift training standard. To find out how this change effects training new and existing operators and evaluations, visit