08 December 2017

Winter Weather: Keeping Staff and Patients Safe In All Conditions

The start of winter weather can mean the arrival of several safety hazards. For example, snow and ice can accumulate on sidewalks and other surfaces, which can lead to slips, trips and falls. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)offers guidance on how to mitigate these risks. For instance, the agency indicates that organizations should promptly clear snow and ice from any walking surfaces and spread de-icer to slow further accumulation. Organizations should also advise staff and patients to wear appropriate footwear for the weather, such as water-resistant boots, shoes with rubber treads or even rubber covers for regular shoes. Signs that caution walkers about potential hazards are helpful, especially when they communicate the need to slow down to better react to changes in traction. By tuning in to winter weather forecasts, facilities can be prepared to rapidly respond when inclement weather arrives.
Lower temperatures can also increase the spread of the flu, which can have severe consequences for at-risk populations like the elderly, the very young and the immunocompromised. One of the best ways to avoid this situation is for organizations to be scrupulous about hand washing—putting policies, processes and systems in place to make sure staff reliably wash their hands before and after every patient encounter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers detailed guidelines that organizations should follow. Some of the strategies relate to the appropriate duration of handwashing and when it is necessary to use soap and water versus alcohol-based hand rubs.
Stericycle works hard to keep organizations in the know about the many regulations related to winter safety, including those from OSHA and the CDC.For more information about new and emerging regulations, contact a Stericycle representative today at 855-602-6279.

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