As the weather continues to warm, we’ll see more and more work taking place outside. For many, this will be exciting news after working for months on end indoors or in the blustery winter conditions. However, Spring comes with its own host of work hazards that are unique to the season. That’s why it’s important to know, understand and prepare for these hazards in your health and safety program. So, let’s take a look at what hazards you should watch out for this season.
Of the four seasons, spring is the most erratic. It can be blazing hot one day and freezing cold the next. Not to mention the sometimes very intense storms. As such, take the weather into careful consideration wherever you work. Your exact location will determine necessary occupational protections. Always pay attention to the weather report and plan accordingly. With a plan in place based on predicted weather conditions, provide workers with the necessary protective clothing and equipment. What’s more, ensure your outdoor employees have access to an emergency kit with the necessary supplies to keep them warm and safe according to what the situation demands.
The weather is warming up fast. That means workers can stay warm with less, but it also puts them at a greater risk of heat stroke. As we grow closer and closer to summer, heat stress will become increasingly common. So, that means it’s time to consider changing your employee’s work clothes and personal protection equipment. In terms of precaution, employees should have access to plenty of water to drink and receive regular breaks from the heat. Additionally, employees should be acclimatized to working in the heat. This is particularly important if your employees have been working in a temperature-controlled environment until now. Start with shorter shifts and extend them to full shifts as workers become accustomed to the hot weather. However, if your employees have worked in the weather regularly throughout the season changing, a check-in system to monitor their well-being will suffice.
Slips and falls are a serious concern in all workplaces, indoor and outdoor. However, spring is a particularly wet season. Water will be tracked indoors and slippery mud will persist for weeks on end. Ensure that your employees’ worksite is assessed for potential fall risks. Then take the necessary steps to mitigate these risks. This can be easily done by deploying warning signs around high-slip areas, resurfacing working areas, and providing employees with new, slip-resistant footwear.
As spring returns, so will the bugs and other certain wildlife. Though most of nature’s creatures are completely harmless, you still want to take precautions to protect your employees. An agitated animal or insect sting can still lead to injury or even death. First, determine if any of your employees have a serious allergy to insects. This will help you take precautionary measures during their shifts. However, you should keep relevant medications such as epinephrine pens available to your workers in the event of unknown allergies. Next, consider any dangerous animals that could potentially wander into the work site. Bears and even deer can become aggressive during this season. Bear Spray and similar deterrents are suggested to protect workers in these environments.
We’ve discussed insect allergies, but spring is the prime season for allergies of all kinds. The air will be full of dust and pollen, affecting indoor and outdoor workers alike. That’s why so many people suffer hay fever this time of year. The effects of hay fever itself will range from mild symptoms like a runny nose to the extreme which leads to nasal conditions, difficulty breathing, and headaches. Employers whose employees primarily work outdoors this season should provide coverage for relevant allergy shots and medications. These will help mitigate allergy symptoms and keep workers comfortable this spring. In terms of personal protective equipment, provide masks and eyewear that limit allergen exposure.
Keep Workers Safe this Spring
Springtime is a truly deceptive season. While we all breathe a sigh of relief as winter leaves, many workplace hazards remain. Don’t be fooled by the pleasant temperatures. Now is the time to reevaluate your standing safety policy to account for springtime hazards. Many hazards will be unique to your location. Some areas have wetter springs. Some have increased storms. Others have unique insects and wildlife to account for. Regardless, you need to know and prepare for any seasonal hazards before an accident can occur. A proactive approach is the best way to plan for workplace safety and mitigate any risks – seasonal or otherwise.