NJM Blog

Winter Safety Tips for Small Businesses

Snow on East Genesee Street in downtown Syracuse, New York between the SA&K Building and the State Tower Building.

Reduce Slip–and–Fall Hazards

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of nonfatal work injuries were related to slips, trips, and falls. Wet and icy weather in the winter months increase the risk of slips and falls at businesses.

  • Use an environmentally friendly deicer to melt ice on outdoor pathways as soon as possible after a storm.

  • Install mats at high–traffic areas to reduce slippery floors.

  • Remove standing water asap and use caution signs to control traffic around it.

  • Encourage employees to wear slip–resistant shoes on icy days.

Reduce Driving Hazards

Winter presents increased hazards for drivers, with over one thousand U.S. workerdeaths resulting from work–related crashes in 2020. The last thing you or your employees want when it’s below freezing is a vehicle breakdown or car crash.

  • Prepare vehicles for cold weather.

  • Train employees who drive for work for winter driving.

  • Provide drivers with emergency kits, shovels, ice scrapers, and, if necessary, tire chains.

  • Where possible, allow remote work when roads are too dangerous for commuting.

Reduce Shoveling Hazards

The cold weather and exertion related to shoveling snow can cause heart attacks and injuries.

  • Train employees to take it slow and stretch before starting to shovel.

  • Avoid lifting snow where possible; push it into the grass.

  • When lifting, use proper lifting form to move small amounts of snow with each movement.

  • When using a snowblower, keep hands away from the moving parts. Do not leave a running snowblower unattended. Turn it off if the blower jams.

Reduce Cold Weather–Related Hazards

Low temperatures, wind, and moisture create health risks, including frostbite and hypothermia.

  • Reschedule outdoor work for warmer months when possible.

  • Reduce outdoor work hours and use a rotation schedule to bring employees out of the cold. Allow frequent indoor breaks, making hot drinks available.

  • Train employees to recognize the symptoms of cold stress, which can include red skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness, and blisters.

  • Where outdoor work is necessary, provide outdoor heaters, insulated boots with good traction, brightly colored clothing, gloves or mittens, and head coverings. Encourage employees to wear at least three layers of loose clothing.

  • If there are symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia, perform first aid and seek immediate medical attention.

Protect Your Building

There are also steps you can take to protect your building from the hazards of heating equipment and the effects of freezing weather.

  • Keep space heaters away from flammable materials and unplug them when not in use. Never set up a generator inside a building.

  • Maintain a building temperature of at least 55 degrees when employees are not present to prevent frozen pipes.

  • Schedule inspection and maintenance of the building’s HVAC system.


“Avoid Frostbite and Hypothermia.” National Safety Council. nsc.org
“Be Prepared for Winter Driving.” National Safety Council. nsc.org
“Fast Facts” (2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). cdc.gov
“Why Do People Die Shoveling Snow?” National Safety Council. nsc.org
“Winter Weather.” United States Department of Labor, Office of Safety and Health Administration. osha.gov
“Working Safely in Cold Weather.” OSHA Alert. United States Department of Labor, Office of Safety and Health Administration. osha.gov

The information contained in this article should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.