Keep Your Employees Safe This Winter
While some view winter weather as a welcomed excused absence from work or school, others must still find their way into the office. What they don’t want to encounter on their way are slick sidewalks, power outages, or the worst – inching your way through icy gridlock only to learn after they’ve battled the weather that the office is, in fact closed. “Sorry,” simply won’t suffice.
Reduce your risk for injuries and dissatisfied employees by doing your part to protect and inform them on bad weather days. You may not be able to stop the snow, rain, and wind, but you can ensure every employee has a safe way to an office that is in working condition.
1. Get Them There Safely
You aren’t in charge of making sure the roads to your office building are safe, but you can keep your employees informed of which roads are passable. This isn’t always easy, especially if you have employees on different devices and in various locations.
If you have a mass communications system, this is the ideal time to use it. It makes it simple and quick to send them a push notification or text, notifying them of the safest route. You can even see issues such as road closures and other traffic obstacles on a map, so you’re easily able to notify employees of relevant travel issues.
Of course, follow the weather reports and use your best judgment if the roads are too risky. Sometimes, it’s just better for everyone to have the day off or be able to work from home. If working from home is a possibility for some or all of your employees, be sure to have a plan in place that stipulates who may work from home, how they will connect to the office remotely, and what tasks they will be expected to complete.
2. Fortify the Office
Did you know that falls involving ice, sleet, or snow are one of the biggest risks during the winter months? In fact, in 2014 (the most recent year the data was collected), there were 42,480 workplace injuries involving snow and ice that required at least one day away from work to recuperate. And those are just the falls that people reported!
You can’t prevent them all, but you can have plans in place to have the parking lot, sidewalks and steps salted ahead of time. You can also be sure large, absorbent mats are placed at every entrance to prevent slips once employees are inside the building. Be sure you are in close contact with the building superintendent or manager to have them test the heating before employees arrive.
They should also check the electricity, as it is common for power lines to go down in ice storms or high winds. These power outages can last for days, crippling operations for any business. Should power go down while employees are at work, be sure you have a plan as to if and how employees are expected to continue to work, as well as a communication plan in place to notify employees of the outage and their instructions.
3. Communicate Effectively and Often
Your employees are going to be expecting some type of communication when they know a big storm is coming. Don’t leave them hanging! A mass communication system is a perfect solution to ensure the right messaging about the storm is getting to those employees who will be most affected. Don’t rely on email or voicemails. Those can get lost in the shuffle, if they are ever checked at all.
An emergency alert system is designed to reach every employee, despite their physical location, on multiple communication channels. This means your employees can receive alerts and notifications on their mobile device via texts, push notifications, email and/or voice calls that can either provide all of the relevant information or direct them to a link to a comprehensive web page. No matter where they are, what they do, or what mobile device they are using, they will receive the information they need. You can also use the system to segment your audience so that only the employees in the affected area receive the notifications.
What Your Employees Want to Know
It’s easy to assume employees will be watching the news and weather reports like you, but some may not have immediate access. Be sure you have a way to communicate with all of your employees about the weather and its disruptions in the schedule. Using an emergency notification system will guarantee they can stay in the know with accurate information.
What do they most need to know?
- If commutes have become impossible
- If power outages or surges will impact their work
- If deliveries will be delayed
- If work hours and/or shifts have been modified
- If they can work from home
- Emergency contact information
- Where they can find updates
The most important thing you can do is let your employees know you have their best interest at heart. This means keeping them informed before, during, and after the weather event. The fortunate part about most winter weather storms is that they are predictable, therefore plannable. Be sure your emergency plan is current and relevant to each location, and that every employee understands the intricacies of the plan.
Do what you can now to prepare and be sure you have a communication system that will help you get the word out fast. It will make these cold, winter months more tolerable for you and your employees.