Every employer must provide a safe and secure workplace for employees. Most manufacturing organizations do an excellent job of eliminating hazards from the work environment, but accidents happen. Some citations occur because manufacturers miss hazards caused by the change in seasons. Winter is especially problematic because it brings inherent hazards of its own that create complications in production areas.
With several months left to go before the snow melts and the spring days come about, take a look at these common winter occurrences that could cause problems for your operation.
Driving During Delivery and Pickups
Those making deliveries and pickups must be equipped with proper safety equipment for weather conditions. Company vehicles should have adequate tread and windshield wipers must be inspected and replaced regularly. Fluid levels, particularly de-icing windshield washer fluid, should be checked weekly as well as before and after storms.
Put vehicles through a tune-up or preventive maintenance check to be sure that brakes, batteries, and other key systems are in tip-top condition.
Slips and Falls
Ice and snow buildup in parking lots and on walkways can be hazardous to employees, delivery people and guests. Make sure your maintenance team is ready to keep these areas clear so employees can reach their workstations easily. Keep salt or ice melt handy to melt ice and keep it from refreezing. When employees enter from outside, they may track ice, snow, and mud that make floors dangerously slippery. Have absorbent mats at the entrance to catch drips.
Some manufacturing equipment and processes, must continue on a specific schedule to prevent quality issues, scrap, or lost production. Handle winter storm closings by having a specific person and a backup who make the decision to close. Management should let employees know about closing decisions on the company’s website or through mass emails, text messages, or phone calls early enough so employees aren’t already on their way to work.
The excess water from melting snow for rain can be a shock hazard for improperly grounded equipment or for employees plugging in hand tools, lights, space heaters, or other devices. The maintenance team should be on the lookout for standing water and educate employees about the hazards of electricity and water.
Help avoid issues from these hazards by using industrial wire and cable rated for damp conditions and to specify high-quality industrial cable and wire whenever you purchase new equipment or add new wiring to your manufacturing facility.
Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which makes them sluggish, sleepy, and depressed. It occurs due to low levels of sunlight, and can be quite dangerous. Many people with this condition become accident prone. To help prevent complications from SAD, have windows in your facility to let natural light in. At the very least, ensure that common areas, cafeterias, and break rooms have plenty of natural light. Consider providing an outdoor break area for those who need to see the sun to feel healthy.
Manufacturing can be hazardous at the best of times, so with winter’s special challenges, watch for these areas of concern.
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