It’s that time of year again when the cold weather is here and winter storms are brewing. For those of you who have lived in cold climates, you may feel a little more confident as we approach the dropping temps, but keep in mind, not everyone is as knowledgeable as you and could pose a hazard, severely interrupting your day. Read on for tips about how to protect yourself this season.
Preparing your vehicle for cold weather is critical. Make sure the anti-freeze is at an adequate level—a frozen engine can be troublesome at the very least and very expensive at worst. Also, have tire chains ready if you are in an area where snow is common or mandated by law. Drivers should know how to install the chains before they are needed, so a quick reminder/training session in your next safety meeting may be in order. And as always, check the vehicle tires to make sure they have plenty of tread. Worn tires are a cause of many vehicle accidents and this threat is magnified in wet, snowy, or icy conditions.
On the road, drivers who are not familiar with snow and ice are more likely to be overly cautious and drive unusually slow, or be careless and drive too fast. This is important to be aware of, especially in areas with heavy traffic. Be patient and move around them carefully, giving plenty of room to navigate.
It is also a good idea to throw a blanket or sleeping bag in the cab of the truck in case the vehicle breaks down or is stuck in traffic for an extended period of time. This will help keep employees warm in the cab without having to run the engine and risk running out of fuel. This does not happen often, but if you have ever been stuck on a freeway for four hours or more, you understand how dangerous this situation can be.
Now is the time to make sure your roof is in good condition. Snow and/or ice on a roof is very heavy and can cause collapse with excessive build-up. But even light ice as it melts can seep through holes in the roof and cause water damage inside. You should have sidewalk salt or some other deicer available to keep sidewalks clear of ice. This will help prevent slip and fall injuries for employees and customers. This may be necessary at a client’s home as well. Be sure to get prior approval from the homeowner before you use anything on their property.
Speaking of the client’s property, during cold seasons having someone available to open and close doors for moving personnel is a great customer service practice. Clients probably won’t want doors left open when your employees go in and out. Having extra floor covering is a great idea as the dolly wheels may bring in a lot of moisture from ice, snow, and rain. And be sure to keep truck ramps clean and dry to reduce slip and falls on the ramp that can result in employee injury and property damage.
At the corporate level, it is a good idea to have a communication plan in place to notify employees or clients that due to weather conditions, operations may be affected. In some cases, it may be necessary to restrict employees from coming to work due to the weather. Having the ability to communicate an office closing quickly to employees is critical. Be sure to develop a plan to deal with those issues.
By preparing for the cold weather, you can reduce the business interruption that may impact your operation while keeping employees safe and customers informed.