10 Ways to Create a COVID-Free Winter Workplace
If you’ve ever worked outside during winter, you know it can be a beast. Biting winds, blinding snow and sub-zero temperatures add new risks to your workday. And now with COVID, those risks have multiplied. To help keep you and your crews safe this winter, we’ve put together a list of 10 ways to combat cold stress and COVID on the job site.
- Keep an eye on hands and feet. This is where hypothermia and frostbite will appear first. Hand warmers, toe warmers and insulated insoles are essential. If any of these symptoms present, get into a warm location, remove wet clothing and drink something warm until medical help arrives.
- Loss of coordination
- Bluish skin
- Slowed breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Blue waxy skin
- Wear insulating outdoor workwear. If layering, use these guidelines:
- Inner layer: moisture-wicking wool, silk or synthetic
- Middle layer: insulating wool or synthetic
- Outer layer: rain- and windproof outwear, preferably with ventilation
- Limit headcount for indoor workspaces, like job site trailers. Place disposable face masks and hand sanitizer at entrances. Keep windows and doors cracked for good airflow.
- Implement multiple work shifts to lower viral transmission risk. Adopt staggered work schedules (providing alternating workdays and multiple shifts, etc.) and assign the same workers to the same shifts. Use partitions or tarps to create socially distanced work zones OSHA’s Work/Warm-Up Guidelines for a Four-Hour Shift [CLICK HERE]
- Issue each worker his or her own personal safety gear, including jackets, vests, hard hats, eye and ear protection, hand warmers, balaclavas, hand sanitizer and winter footwear.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces before and after each shift using antimicrobial detergents and disinfectants. Think shared tools, handrails, portable heaters, warmers, coffeemakers, shovels, scrapers, doorknobs and time clocks. tarps and worksite lighting.
- Replace face masks and respirators when wet, soiled or visibly contaminated. Respiratory protective gear loses effectiveness when compromised.
- Winterize cleaners and disinfectants. Most are liquids and will freeze around 32°F. If you notice this happening, mix in a small amount of propylene glycol at a ratio between 1:20 to 1:40. This clear, biodegradable organic solvent is often used in foods and is considered safe for all surfaces.
Key Times to Sanitize Hands
- Before and after shifts and breaks
- After nose blowing, coughing or sneezing
- After restroom use
- Before and after eating
- After touching shared objects (tools, equipment, etc.)
- Before putting on/after taking off PPE
- Clean and disinfect vehicles, equipment and tech devices before and after each shift. Wearing disposable gloves and a face mask, clean non-porous surfaces (key fob, steering wheel, seats, arm rests, door handles, etc.) and soft, porous surfaces like fabric seats. If surfaces are grimy, clean with an antimicrobial detergent or soap prior to disinfecting with an antimicrobial disinfectant. For tech devices, consider installing a wipeable cover and disinfect with 70 percent alcohol-based wipes or sprays.
EPA-Approved COVID-19 Detergents and Soaps
EPA-Approved COVID-19 Disinfectants
Rethink Crew Transportation
- Drive to worksites individually
- Distance yourself from others in vehicles
- Keep all vehicle windows open
- Set air intake to “fresh air” instead of “recirc”
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by COVID prevention at your job site? You’re not alone. Reach out to the Workplace Safety Experts at Conney Safety. Whether you need employee training, a customized safety plan or a complete hazard analysis, our experienced team of Certified Safety Professionals can help as little or as much as you like. We’re always ready to help.
The Conney Safety Workplace Safety Experts
Information in this article is sourced from the Conney Safety consulting team, as well as the CDC, EPA and OSHA.