Beware winter is here, and in Kansas City, temperatures can range between mild and bitterly cold. If you are a part of the workforce that serves in the manufacturing, production, material moving or transportation industries, you might want to take timely precautions to prevent injuries that might spoil the upcoming holidays and festivities. The most common safety and health threats at this time of the year are vehicle accidents, slips and trips that lead to falls, and illnesses such as colds and flu.
Along with slushy or ice-covered walkways, the cold weather can reduce the blood circulation to your feet, and the limited sensation in your toes might jeopardize your ability to maintain balance. Furthermore, decreased focus levels can result from fewer daylight hours along with the energy-zapping cold temperatures.
There is no holding back, and the worst of winter will be upon you soon. For that reason, it is crucial for employers and employees to avoid procrastination and start taking the following precautions rather than waiting for the snow to cause a slip-and-fall accident:
- Start by reviewing incidents of occupational injuries in previous winters, and take the necessary action to prevent repetitions.
- Assess the workplace and look for standing water, uneven surfaces, low-traction flooring and other potential causes for slips, trips and falls.
- Address identified dangers promptly, and limit access to those that remain hazardous.
- Ensure all areas are well lit and post warning signs where poor lighting cannot be resolved.
- Establish snow removal protocols based on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's guidelines, and ensure maintenance workers have the necessary snow blowers, shovels, etc.
- Underscore the importance of cleaning up spills immediately.
Being prepared for when the worst of winter arrives can prevent unnecessary injuries.
Including education about potential winter-injury hazards in safety training at this time is a critical component in preparation for the icy and snowy conditions. Employers can emphasize the following safety tips:
- Avoid cellphone distractions while walking. Even without distractions, it is difficult to navigate slippery walkways, and even more so with eyes focused on mobile phone screens.
- Wear non-slip shoes and any other required safety wear.
- Dress for warmth but also safety. Machines can catch bulky clothing like coats, gloves, scarves and hoodies with drawstrings, with devastating consequences.
- Avoid carrying loads that block your view, and secure ladders on non-slippery bases before you climb them.
- Be aware that taking shortcuts in winter can cause serious injuries.
Wintertime in Missouri might as well have given rise to the saying "prevention is better than cure."
Accidents happen, regardless of all the safety precautions you might take. However, with prompt reporting to your employer, the wheels can be set in motion to claim workers' compensation benefits from the state-regulated insurance system. The insurer typically pays medical expenses immediately, and if your injury causes temporary disability, you likely will receive a wage-replacement package. With the help of an experienced Missouri workers' compensation attorney, your injury and unanticipated financial losses might not spoil your holidays.