Winter Worker Safety

Source: Vadim Ratnikov - 123RF

Winter weather presents hazards including slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds, and environmental cold. Employers must prevent illnesses, injuries, or fatalities, by controlling these hazards in workplaces impacted by winter weather.

OSHA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working together on a public education effort aimed at improving the way people prepare for and respond to severe weather.

The combined effort helps businesses and their workers prepare for winter weather, and to provide information about hazards that workers may face during and after winter storms.

In areas that have snow and ice, OSHA recommends that to prevent slips, trips, and falls, employers should clear snow and ice from walking surfaces, and spread deicer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm. When walking on snow or ice is unavoidable workers should be trained to:

  • Wear footwear that has good traction and insulation (e.g. insulated and water resistant boots or rubber over-shoes with good rubber treads); and
  • Take short steps and walk at a slower pace to react quickly to changes in traction.

OSHA’s Hazard Alert and winter weather web pages provide guidance to employers on how to prevent serious injuries and fatalities.

Employers should consider options to avoid working on roofs or elevated heights, plan ahead for safe snow removal and must:

  • Provide required fall protection and training when working on the roof or elevated heights;
  • Ensure ladders are used safely (e.g. clearing snow and ice from surfaces);
  • Use extreme caution when working near power lines; and
  • Prevent harmful exposure to cold temperatures and physical exertion.

Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers:

  • Recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice covered roads;
  • Are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and
  • Are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate. For information about driving safely during the winter, visit OSHA’s Safe Winter Driving page.

Visit OSHA’s hazards, resources, and precautions page for complete guidance on safe winter weather working conditions.