Winter is upon us! Mother nature has covered the ground in a white blanket, frigid gusts blow through the air when we step outside, and some of us are enjoying a nice hot cocoa by the fire more often than not. While many families are out enjoying the wintry wonderlands with their sleds and snowmen building, it’s important to reflect that this time of year can pose as a challenge for those of us who are Connecticut business owners. In fact, if you don’t take the right precautions, your employees could face obstacles that result in a claim. Today, we want to talk to our Connecticut business owners about how they can avoid claims by keeping their team safe with some of our winter safety tips for the workplace.
If your business operates a commercial vehicle of any sort during the winter time, then it’s important to review some winter driving safety tips with your team. Whether they drive a truck, a company car, or even a bus or other vehicle, reviewing winter driving safety tips with your team is critical, even if your team is made up of seasoned veteran drivers.
The first safety tip to review with your team is that in the winter, there can be less traction on the road due to ice and snow, so sudden stops or turns can become much more difficult. To keep your team safe, it’s best to advise your employees to decrease their speed, and increase their following distance from the vehicles in front of them on the road. This will allow them more reaction time in the case of an emergency, and make it much less likely that they can get into an accident from hydroplaning. Additionally, breaking suddenly in these conditions can cause your brakes to lock up and cause their vehicles to skid, especially with larger trucks. If you ever begin to skid, it’s best to pump the brakes, because locking them up will just make matters worse. After that, shift to neutral, and maintain control of the vehicle by turning the wheel in the direction where you’d like to go. At the end of the skid, put the truck back in gear instead of coming to a stop. As an extra tip, always be sure to accelerate slowly to maintain your traction.
During the winter, it’s best for our drivers to keep an extra keen eye on the road, because certain parts of the road can be more difficult to navigate. There are a few spots on the road that you should pay extra attention to during inclement weather. The first is exit ramps, because a turn that is too sharp or a turn that is taken while your vehicle is moving to fast can cause you to lose control if the road conditions are poor. Additionally, you should keep an eye open for bridges, because these are the first spot that will freeze and will have low traction. Speaking of low traction, some areas with low traction can be hard to spot, such as black ice patches. It’s best to keep an eye out for black ice when temperatures are near freezing, and remember that black ice can simply look like the road is nothing more than wet. Lastly, be sure to pay extra attention to intersections, so that you have plenty of time to hit the brakes early when you see red lights or stop signs.
Now, even though traction may be low in certain areas, that doesn’t mean that we can’t maintain complete control of the vehicle regardless. If you are constantly aware of your speed, accelerations, and your braking, then you’ll be much less likely to lose control, even when turning and stopping; although we do have a few more extra tips. Generally speaking, you should try to stay away from the tire tracks of other vehicles, because when the snow is packed down to the road, it’s much more likely your tires will spin over it. Additionally, to maintain tire traction on the road, you’ll want to take any acceleration very gradually in inclement weather, and decrease your overall speed. Other than that, for our truckers, just be sure not to use your Jake brake, because this brake controls only the tractor and not the actual trailer itself. If you take your foot off the accelerator, it can make your trailer cause a jack knife if it slides out.
Overall, it’s important to remember that if conditions become bad enough, you can always stop where you are. Sometimes, pressure on a shipment or other service can be overwhelming, but if conditions are becoming unsafe, it’s best to pull off of the road and wait it out. Pushing through a winter storm can be devastating, and it’s best to play it safe if weather conditions are getting out of hand.
Before you ever hit the road, it’s best to make sure you’re prepared for the journey ahead. We wanted to provide a quick checklist of items that commercial vehicle operators should have on them at all times, in case something were to go wrong:
- A windshield scraper
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Full tank of gas
- Tire chains
- Jumper cables
- Extra wiper blades
- Sand or salt
- Batteries or electronic charging equipment (you don’t want to be stranded in the case that your mobile phone dies or other possibilities)
- For truckers – make sure the weight of your load is evenly distributed
- Make sure all lights and mirrors on your vehicle are clear of snow or ice before you leave
If you take the time to review these winter safety tips with everyone in your workplace, it can heavily reduce your risk of having a winter related claim on your Connecticut workers’ compensation policy or commercial insurance policy.
For those of us who have outdoor workers, a lot of these fundamentals will remain the same. But, if they are spending excessive time outdoors and not just in a vehicle, there are a few more pieces of advice we can leave you and your team with. The first is that it’s always important to wear gloves, and carry an extra pair. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to keep a spare jacket around too just in case (and be sure it’s warm enough for when temperatures drop even more at night!), and even rain gear can come in handy in brutal wintry weather.
Additionally, you can always advise your team that carrying extra food and water is probably a safe option as well, because you never know if something could happen that could cause you to be stranded in a winter storm.
Last, but not least, remember that calling for help is always a reasonable option if you can’t handle your situation on your own. Some employees can become very nervous in emergency situations, but it’s best not to let anxiety get the best of you. If possible, always call someone in an emergency, and try to stay inside, because leaving your truck in an emergency can put you in an unpredictable situation.
The Final Touch
As your trusted advisers in everything pertaining to insurance, we want to help your team stay protected in every situation. It’s important to keep you and your team safe, no matter what, this way we can avoid as many claims as possible to keep your insurance premium at an affordable, low price. Although, sometimes claims can’t always be predicted, and that’s why insuring your peace of mind is one of the many ways we aim to help Connecticut business owners and their employees. In case of an emergency, make sure you have the right coverage for your team by exploring our workers’ compensation policy options with one of our professional agents.