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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Don't Let Winter Bring You Down

Combine slippery surfaces with gravity and our species’ generally upright posture, it’s little wonder that the forces of nature conspire to bring us tumbling down from time to time.

With winter waiting around the corner to greet us with the usual medley of snow, freezing rain, sleet and ice, we need to think about how we’ll protect ourselves and others from injury.

While many winter weather-related injuries are the result of slips and falls on ice, or motor vehicle accidents caused by poor driving conditions, many injuries are also musculoskeletal. Those injuries, from activities like moving heavy, wet snow, represent part of the 60 per cent of all time-loss injuries that affect the skeleton, muscles, and tissues. Musculoskeletal injuries remove thousands of Nova Scotians from the workforce every year, with untold impact on their professional and personal lives.

Here are some tips for preventing common winter injuries:

Slips and Falls
• Wear non-slip shoes or boots
• Always clear ice and snow off all walkways, steps and work areas
• Use sand or salt on walkways and parking lots
• Ensure ladders and scaffolds are completely free of ice and snow

Shovelling Snow
• Push snow rather than lift it
• If you have to lift, protect your back by lifting safely:
    – Stand with feet at hip width for balance; be aware of ice
    – Hold shovel close to body
    – Space hands shoulder-width apart to increase leverage
    – Bend knees, and lift with legs not your back
    – Tighten stomach muscles
    – Do not twist
    – Don’t lift higher than waist level
    – Walk to dump snow rather than throw it
• When snow is deep or heavy, shovel small amounts at a time

Motor Vehicle Collisions
• Get a vehicle maintenance check-up
• Switch to winter tires
• Check weather and travel conditions before heading out
• Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and roof
• Keep gas and windshield washer fluid tanks full

Be sure to check out these useful resources for a safer winter season:
CCOHS OSH Fact Sheet - Shovelling
CCOHS OSH Fact Sheet - Winter Driving Tips
Government of Canada - Get Prepared: Winter Safety Indoors and Out
Winter driving: prevent problems before they occur
Workplace Safety North issues tips for winter safety

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