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Winter weather creates workplace hazards

The winter months can make workplaces much more dangerous than in the summer, fall or spring, depending on what the job is. Winter has its own hazards and safety challenges, which means you need to be extra careful when reviewing your work environment for risks.

One of the first things to recognize is that there will be an increase in traffic through most areas on the roads as well as increased foot traffic inside businesses, particularly in retail. Whether you're working in the parking lot to make sure pallets come inside or putting away items on a shop floor, both vehicular traffic and foot traffic can create a risk. You might be busy, but remember to take your time; if you're in the parking lot or loading bay, don't take shortcuts to get the job done faster. On the floor, take breaks when you need them.

Slips and falls are fairly common in the winter as well, because snow, rain and sleet can gather in the walkways, making linoleum floors slick. Dry wet floors whenever possible, either with a mop or by maintaining rags or towels nearby to wipe them up when necessary. Put up a wet floor sign; both employees and customers should be reminded to watch their step.

Of course, where there's water, there is a risk of ice, particularly outside the shop's doors. Use salt to keep the area frost-free. Inside, the cold can mean chilly hands, and if you work outside, frostbite is a real concern. Cold temperatures can also lead to dehydration, which is something to look out for.

Your employer should take steps to keep you safe in the winter, as well as the rest of the year. Our website has more information.

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