Safety

OSHA: Facilities should safeguard against winter hazards

Hospital Safety Insider, January 4, 2018

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During last weekend's nationwide chill and a few days before Winter Storm Grayson plowed through the Northeast, OSHA urged employees involved in snow removal and cleanup, and other workers who will spend extended periods of time outdoors, to take precautions to limit their exposure to serious hazards in nasty winter weather.

OSHA cited being struck by vehicles, carbon monoxide, hypothermia, and being injured by powered equipment as concerns for those tackling snow removal and cleanup.

But slips and falls on snow and ice are concerns for all employees, and patients, too. And that's not just a concern in parking lots, on walkways, and at the entrance of your hospital or clinic. Be sure to clean up any ice, snow, and puddles that may form inside your waiting room because slippery interior surfaces could also cause a slip or a fall.

OSHA cautioned that anyone who works outside for prolonged periods, which could include emergency first responders, could be at risk of cold stress and/or frostbite. Per OSHA, moderate to severe symptoms of cold stress include shivering stops, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate and breathing slowness, and loss of consciousness.

While OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers the safety of employees from all industries working in cold environments, its website states that "employers have a responsibility to provide workers with employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards, including winter weather-related hazards, which are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to them."

For those affected by the latest wave of cold and snow, stay warm and safe out there.



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