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Winter's coming: 12 tips for staying safe

WSPS Specialized Consultant Kristin Onorato lives in Southwestern Ontario. While it’s not the coldest part of the province, it is home to paralyzing snowfalls that can dump upwards of 30 centimetres in hours. Kristin has had plenty of experience personally and professionally in preparing for winter and offers 12 tips to keep you safe at home and work.

How to stay safe at home

  1. Have your heating system serviced to make sure it's working properly and ventilated to the outside.
  2. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries regularly. Replace them at least once a year.
  3. Stock supplies of water, canned goods, non-perishables and de-icing products for your driveway and sidewalk.
  4. Keep shovels and brooms handy.
  5. Maintain your vehicle's gas tank more than half full to avoid condensation, and have extra windshield washer fluid on hand. Check washer levels regularly.

How to stay safe at work

  1. Put an inclement weather policy in place. For example, identify conditions that would lead to closing the facility, as well as next steps, including communicating the closure to employees and customers. "If a storm is coming, send people home early and warn the next shift before they come in, says Kristin.
  2. Have managers and supervisors download weather apps to their smartphones so they can monitor and respond to changing weather conditions.
  3. Put snow and ice removal protocols in place for your maintenance staff. "Don't rely solely on snow removal contractors," says Kristin. "If a bad snowstorm is coming it will be bad for everyone, so make sure you have the right protocols in place."
  4. Involve your joint health and safety committee or representative in checking for outdoor hazards, they may have insights on hazards that you missed. "For instance, ensure exterior lighting comes on when needed," says Kristin. "You don't want people walking to their cars in the dark."
  5. Ensure all entrances, exits, walkways and parking lots remain clear of snow, ice and water. Keep related supplies, such as sand, salt and shovels, near potential problem areas.
  6. Keep floors and loading docks free of snow, ice and water.
  7. Encourage employees to report winter hazards.