Winter is Coming

I can hear you shouting "It's the end of September, what do you mean prepare!" However, unfortunately we do need to prepare as, to quote Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming. This means that we have to be more aware or additional hazards brought by the changing seasons. Most of us are aware of the increase dangers getting to and from work as well as in the work place at this time of year. Yet, most of us forget that the home can be just as hazardous. I could make an extensive list of the most common accidents and their causes at this time of year and, I would bet, it would be the same for the last 10 years. 

The unfortunate thing is that as humans we rarely learn from our mistakes. What I will do is list what I believe is the top 10 injuries which will occur during this season (some may surprise you!) 

  • 1. Broken bones, dislocation, 
  • 2. Sprains, twists and bruising 
  • 3. Concussion and head injuries 
  • All above commonly caused by slips or falls in wet leaves, snow or ice. 
  • 4. Muscle strain, back injury caused by shoveling as we try to clear our paths and driveways 
  • 5. Frostbite, chill blains from cold 
  • 6. Hanging Christmas decorations and falls from height 
  • 7. An increase in home baking results in an increase in oven burns. 
  • 8. Increase use of sharp objects such as scissors, knives, envelope knives etc result in more cutting injuries 
  • 9. Car collision injuries such as whiplash due to icy conditions 
  • 10. Other car conditions such as break down, blocked roads etc. Hypothermia

This short list may seem obvious but with a little care, thought, preparation, planning and maintenance most could be reduced or avoided. 

For instance: 

For 1,2, and 3 by sweeping up leaves frequently and not allowing them to accumulate, filling salt bins, making sure bins and shovels are fit for purpose, checking your foot wear (are they suitable, good tread?) 

4 by checking the state of snow shovels, ensuring that you have purpose made snow shovels. If you have a large area consider buying a salt or grit spreader 

5. ensure winter clothing and footwear is in good condition, no holes! Fit for purpose, suitable clothing for weather conditions. 

6. by inspecting ladders before use and having at least 2 people (one to foot the ladder the other to pass decorations up) when using it. You also need to ensure ladders are suitable and stable. Make sure you have good lighting and suitable weather if outside. 

7. by checking condition of oven gloves and, where possible, use baking trays that can be gripped easily. Try to use good tequniques when bending, crouching and standing by the oven. Ensure there is adequate lighting and clear kitchen of any distractions (kids, pets etc) before handling hot items 

8. by using safety or child friendly knives where possible. Also supervising others and removing distractions. 

9 and 10 can be reduced by checking the condition of your car, consider using winter tyres and making sure to have deicer in the car. Also ensure you have winter safety equipment (snow shovel, blanket, torch etc) stored in the car. 

In the workplace further considerations need to be considered by both the employer and employees in regards to safety. These not only apply to equipment and the environment, where the work is taking place, cold, ice, exposure, higher winds, wetter conditions, worse ground conditions, less daylight, but also about mental wellbeing and external pressures from the season like Christmas.