Are you tired of snow yet? Looks like Old Man Winter doesn’t want to leave the area as more snow is predicted yet again for this coming week.
As we continue with bitter cold temperatures and the potential for freezing rain or significant snowfall amounts, there is always plenty of work to be done around the farm or agri-business.
When we get ready to work outside it is important to start with layered clothing but keep in mind too may clothes can be restrictive to range of motion in our body movements.
When working outside in these types of conditions we tend to hear about and see more injuries including frostbite, overexertion, muscle strain, slips, trips, falls and lets us not forget heart attack.
Kent McGuire, OSU Ag Safety and Health Program Coordinator, provides some guidelines for reducing the risk of injury in winter working conditions include:
• Keep track of weather forecasts. Watch the local weather and check the National Weather Service. Know when temperatures and conditions could make outside work dangerous.
• Plan ahead and wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, even a simple task may take longer to complete than planned. Dress warm enough to withstand the lowest forecasted temperature or wind chill temperature. Remove or replace wet or damp clothing as soon as possible, including gloves.
• If possible, perform work during the warmest part of the day and take frequent short breaks in a warm dry area to allow the body to rest and warm up.
• Keep travel paths free from ice and snow. Be observant to areas such as water troughs or leaking roofs/gutters, where liquids may have splashed and have frozen.
• Be observant to hazards at the perimeter of buildings such as falling ice cycles and sliding snow on metal roofs during thawing conditions.
• Snow removal operations such as plowing, sweeping, and snowblowing can reduce visibility to near zero in the immediate area. Utilize a visual reference point to stay on course and avoid any potential hazards.
• Use caution with gas powered equipment. Dangerous carbon monoxide can be generated by gas-powered equipment as well as alternative heating sources. Use these items only in well-ventilated areas.
• When shoveling snow or removing ice: Stretch your muscles before you begin. Don’t overload the shovel and take frequent breaks to stretch your back. Bend your knees and let your legs do the lifting. Avoid twisting motions which can lead to muscle sprain / strain injuries.
Not only when the temperature drops but when all this snow starts to melt, ice will more than likely become a severe problem when working outdoors.
McGuire warns icy conditions can cause severe injuries because a slip or slide abruptly causes a loss of balance, which results in a fall, impacting the surface below. The most common severe injuries occur to the hips, back or head.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, there were 42,480 workplace slip-and-fall injuries in the workplace, involving ice, sleet or snow that required at least one day away from work to recuperate. This does not include thousands more winter slip-and-fall related injuries that were minor and did not result in lost work time.
Here are some simple guidelines to reduce the risk of a slip / fall injury from icy conditions:
• Use the proper footwear that can provide some slip resistance and traction.
• Take short steps or shuffle and try to ensure your torso stays balanced over your feet.
• Keep your hands out of your pockets. You can help break your fall with your hands free if you do start to slip and by placing your arms out to your side can help to maintain your balance.
• Utilize handrails and grab bars, or follow a fence line in an effort to maintain your stability by holding on to a solid object.
• If applying salt to travel paths is not an option, apply sand, gravel, kitty litter, floor dry or some abrasive substance to provide a texture for traction.
• Use grassy areas as a secondary travel path. This will provide a course texture to increase traction while walking.
• Take extra precaution around livestock watering areas. Ice can form in these areas by water being splashed or dripped around the perimeter of the tank.
• Minimize distractions to remain alert to icy hazards and avoid carrying bulky items that block your view.
• When transitioning from the bright outdoor environment to indoor areas, stop briefly to allow your vision to catch up with the change in lighting, in order to recognize hazards ahead.
• Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles or equipment; use the vehicle for support.
• Use 3 points of contact when mounting or dismounting large equipment (1 hand/2 feet) or (2 hands/1 foot). Ensure there is solid footing on the ground before final dismounting.
No matter what the winter continues to hand us, please be safe out there. If you would like more information about OSU Ag Safety, visit http://www.agsafety.osu.edu .
Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.