Oregon Officials Offer Tips to Prevent Winter Weather-Related Job Hazards
The Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Division is encouraging employers to plan to protect lives and reduce accidents this season.
Winter weather is upon us, and snow, ice and rain are some of the hazards that can make day-to-day duties even more dangerous for workers.
Officials pointed to a severe winter storm that brought snow and freezing rain to Portland, Ore., in January 2004, which turned streets into slick skating rinks. According to state workers' compensation data, disabling claims (at least three days of missed work) spiked due to falls on wet surfaces and ice, making up 14 percent of the total claims that month. Officials said the trend was consistent with the winter months that followed when slips and falls often coincided with weather events.
"Unfortunately, we often make our plans without taking into account bad weather, which means typical winter weather in much of the state," said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA. "Work practices that are just fine during dry weather when visibility is good may not be nearly as effective in rain, fog, or early darkness, and equipment that presents no problems when it's dry can be treacherous when the rains come or temperatures drop below freezing."
Oregon OSHA officials encouraged employers to take these precautions:
- Keep walkways clear from ice and snow. Provide entry mats to avoid indoor slips.
- Review bad weather procedures with employees. Discuss specific job hazards that may be present during winter weather conditions.
- Prepare a roadside emergency kit for company vehicles. These kits should include items such as water, food, flares, a blanket, window scraper, and tire chains (when required).
January 19, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications