Supply Chain Safety Tips for Winter

Author: Rene Garcia


Safety hazards are everywhere and constantly evolving. As such, organizations must be vigilant in protecting their workers and the supply chain by extension, especially when the seasons change. Employees on the same worksite for prolonged periods can become complacent and not realize how the environment changes as colder weather affects the area. Suddenly, pools of water left standing become dangerous slipping hazards, and the wrong protective clothing could lead to frostbite or hypothermia. During this winter season, here are a few measures companies can take to reduce risk.

Monitor Weather Reports: Regardless of industry, ensuring your workers avoid severe weather is one of the best ways to prevent an injury or a supply chain disruption. Knowing what weather is going to affect a worksite or a travel route can give you insight in scheduling shifts or directing cargo in alternative ways.

Limit Exposure to Severe Elements: Whenever possible, minimize the amount of time workers have to endure severe temperatures. Consider scheduling multiple different shifts to complete one large task so that one group doesn’t have to suffer the entire ordeal. Also consider breaking up large tasks into smaller tasks.

Warm the Break Area: It seems obvious but bears mentioning that the break area should be properly heated to ensure that workers always have a place to get warm. When heaters are employed, make sure that proper safety procedures are followed, because a fire can be just as deadly as severe cold.

Mandate Protective Clothing: A safety requirement during winter should be that employees all wear appropriate clothing that will protect them from the cold. This can include heavy boots, gloves, and head cover. Non-slip soles are also a good idea depending on the worksite.

Clear Snow and Ice: Snow and ice are relentless hazards in some areas during winter, but they must be cleared every day before work begins. Snow can impede work, and ice is a slipping hazard that is difficult to identify. Salt or sand down the worksite as needed.

Avoid Caffeine: Most workers will naturally gravitate to coffee during cold months if only because that is what they are used to drinking during the rest of the year. And, more obviously, coffee is warm. The danger, however, is that caffeine can elevate heart rates and give drinkers a false sense of warmth. This can lead to frostbite and other dangers.

Prepare Vehicles for Winter: Machinery is designed to function within a temperature range. When the weather pushes temperature to the extremes, that’s when vehicles break down. And unlike hot months, severe cold months can make it difficult to reach stranded workers in vehicles. Make sure every vehicle is inspected for working condition, and that they are outfitted with emergency supplies, like food, blankets, flares, shovels, scrapers, and more.

Provide Winter Safety Training: Safety training should be an ongoing practice for any jobsite, but it should be adjusted as the hazards evolve with the weather. Employees should be taught what to do when stranded and how to recognize hypothermia and frostbite symptoms. In these cases, the affected workers should seek medical attention immediately.

Winter poses unique health and safety challenges for any supply chain, but with proper preparation and diligence, incidents can be avoided. Avetta can help organizations source supply chain partners who take winter safety seriously by ensuring contractors and suppliers meet compliance and safety standards, and are appropriately trained and certified to perform the job expected of them no matter the weather.

Learn more about how Avetta can help to prequalify contractors and suppliers.

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