It’s Almost Time! Preparing Employees for Winter Weather

Winter is around the corner! It’s time to brush up on how to prepare your workplace for the inevitable ice and snow, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. If you send employees out on the roads or off-site during the winter months, it’s crucial to train them for how to handle slip and fall hazards, driving-related hazards, and emergency situations.


People don’t always think of a slip and fall as a major hazard, but it can lead to short- or long-term disability, or even fatality. You might not think you need to train employees to walk in snow and ice, but prevention reminders are always a good thing.

  • Always wear proper footwear if walking on snow or ice. If your employees are outdoors, they should have insulated, water-resistant boots with rubber treads.
  • Over-the-shoe cleats (also called “creepers” or “all-purpose traction clip-ons”) are also helpful. They mitigate the risk, even when the task is only walking to and from vehicles or making dumpster runs. For periods of outdoor time like shoveling walkways, these can virtually control the risk.
  • Short steps and a slower walking pace is important because it allows you to react to a change in traction if you hit a patch of ice or snow on a walkway.

Vehicle Emergency Kits

What’s important for your employees to always have on hand in vehicles? Whether they’re long-haul drivers or making local deliveries or visiting other local sites, you never know when a fast-moving winter storm could crop up. Especially here in the Northeast, we need to be prepared from October to April. These emergency items can make the difference between a crisis situation and a safe one:

  • Mobile phone (or two-way radio) with extra battery or charging cables
  • Windshield ice scraper and snow brush
  • Blankets, extra clothing for layering
  • Shovel and tow chain
  • Traction material (like a bag of sand or cat litter)
  • Flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Nonperishable food and water
  • Brightly colored cloth or t-shirt in case you need to signal for help



You might need to occasionally require your employees to shovel, whether it’s a walkway that the public uses, one that’s only used by employees, or if they are with a vehicle that is stuck in a parking space. Shoveling can be more strenuous than it seems because the cold temperature takes additional toll on the body, so lifting and exertion in the winter can cause more harm than the same type of activity would in warmer weather. Your employees must protect themselves from exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, and heart attacks.


Workers can reduce the risk of shoveling-related injuries by taking frequent breaks in a warm place, warming up ahead of shoveling, taking small shovelfuls, and pushing snow rather than lifting, where possible. It’s also important for workers to learn to keep their backs straight and lift with the legs, rather than twisting or bending their bodies. Especially when shoveling, it’s important to wear over-the-shoe cleats, as mentioned above.


Training and refreshing

Although the basics of cold weather protection and preparation might seem like things that people just know, even from their personal lives and living in the Northeast, it’s crucial that you train and re-train them on protocol each season. Don’t assume that each employee’s standard for what to do in wintry weather is the same as the one that you want your business to use. A demonstration for anyone who might be lifting a shovel, along with the presence of safety kits in each vehicle and training for what to do in an emergency can mitigate your risk if someone is faced with a tough winter situation. There are general training guidelines that every business should follow, but it’s important to update season-specific and job-specific training as it relates to your employees.