Starting in March, the spring means brighter days, flowers blooming, and warmer temperatures! While the spring months get us closer to the hot summer, they also bring with them a wide array of specific hazards to look out for. As always, we’ve put together some monthly breakdowns of what to expect, safety calendars, and topical safety talks for each month. Starting with our March safety topics piece, we then have April safety topics and May safety topics to finish off the season.
In this article, we’ve put together 8 spring safety topics for the workplace, as well as a list of our top tips to keep your safety talks relevant year-round.
Spring hazards to prepare for
Severe weather: Flood
Wet weather; slips, trips, and falls; driving in dangerous conditions; mud.
Severe weather: Lightning
Dangerous working conditions (outdoors); electrical issues; loss of power; safety outdoors.
Severe weather: Tornado
Unexpected weather; dangerous working outside; driving in dangerous conditions.
Severe weather: Hurricane
High winds; potential for falls outdoors; dangerous driving conditions.
Dangerous driving conditions
The low sun; weather causing issues with driver safety; distractions; cell phone use
Slips, trips, and hazards
Injuries or fatalities caused by wet weather or unexpected weather conditions.
The low sun; extra heat; changes in temperatures affecting suitable PPE.
Insects and vegetation
Working outdoors safely; potential for ticks and Lyme disease; safe use of insect repellants.
Spring safety toolbox topics
If you want to give your toolbox talks a spring spruce-up, try some of the suggestions below.
One of the main tools we use at work is our hands. Our hands are integral to all parts of our lives and permanent hand damage will cause long-lasting effects. Common hand injuries include:
Not only is it critical to keep your staff safe, but hand injuries at work will also delay your projects and hurt profitability. So, it’s important to make sure that your staff are aware of hand injuries and the potential hazards such as machinery, falling objects, or safe use of PPE. The first step is teaching them where the first aid kit is for small injuries but it doesn’t stop there. They must also understand OSHA’s injury reporting guidelines, should an accident occur. Especially if this accident included a visit to the emergency room (ER).
For managers, it’s important that your staff have access to the right PPE. This can include encouraging workers to wear rubber gloves (or, for machinery jobs, something thicker and hardwearing).
DOWNLOAD HAND SAFETY TOOLBOX TALK
Near misses and incident reporting
A near miss is defined by OSHA as an incident “in which a worker might have been hurt if the circumstances were slightly different”. This includes “close calls” where colleagues narrowly missed an accident. Examples of near misses include escaping from a falling object, a hazardous chemical leak or the blade of cutting equipment.
This toolbox talk topic will never go out of fashion. It’s actually relevant in all seasons because reducing the number of near misses reduces the number of incidents as well. So, it’s always a good idea to reiterate to your colleagues the importance of reporting all near misses. A near miss one day could be an injury or a fatality on the next.
DOWNLOAD NEAR-MISS TOOLBOX TALK
Spring weather extremes
One of the can’t-miss spring safety topics is the change in temperature during this season. Spring’s frequent weather fluctuations and extra rain bring a whole host of extremes. Typically, in North America, these could include:
- Extreme wet weather or flooding
- High winds or tornadoes
Such weather can affect working conditions greatly and pose “code red” workplace hazards. So, it’s important that your staff are aware of the potential hazards raised by these weather extremes and know how to act. Some topics to consider include:
- Working with overhead wires in the wind/rain
- Ladder safety: particularly when the rungs of metal ladders get wet outdoors
- Slips, trips, and falls, particularly on stairs
- Being mindful of loose debris or falling objects in high winds
- Using (or not using!) power tools in extreme weather conditions
- Operating dangerous tools according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- The dangers of working outside in a thunderstorm
DOWNLOAD LIGHTNING TOOLBOX TALK
As in all months, driver safety is an important daily toolbox talk topic. Extremes in weather mean a whole host of new hazards for spring drivers such as low sun, high winds, rain or even scorching temperatures in some places. So, it’s important that drivers pay special attention to their vehicles during this time.
Spring fatigue could lead to distracted driving or a lack of driver awareness. This means the driver risks ending up in a ditch, or worse, getting trapped in an enclosed vehicle.
DOWNLOAD DRIVER SAFETY TOOLBOX TALKS
Things like proper eye protection and wearing gloves around chemicals or cleaning fluids are essential at all times to avoid irritation and injury. But PPE requirements do change according to the temperature and weather. In addition, while it may be tempting to have bare feet or go topless when working outdoors in the sun, it’s never a good idea.
DOWNLOAD HEAT PPE TOOLBOX TALK
Outdoor work may increase after a winter break and self-retracting lifelines or SRLs are an important tool for working outdoors. At the beginning of the new season, it’s crucial to inspect all SRLs thoroughly each day, following the SRL inspection requirements set by OSHA. By the way, this makes an especially appropriate toolbox talk topic for construction workers. Some things to look out for during the SRL inspection include:
- Defective components
With the warmer weather comes an increase in fire hazards. This applies at home as well as at work. Some simple fire safety tips include:
- Test your smoke detectors
- Make sure gasoline is stored safely
- Use a flashlight rather than a pilot light as a light source
- Control the volumes of trash left outdoors in the sun
- Check if you meet OSHA’ requirements for fire extinguisher placement
DOWNLOAD FIRE SAFETY TOOLBOX TALK
Spring safety tips
For some super-simple spring safety tips, we recommend the following list. These can be shared at the end of your toolbox talks, combined to create a new spring safety talk or, why not, inspire you to create safety culture leadership quotes and safety slogans that rhyme.
- Wear a mask when cleaning dusty areas
- Be careful when walking on wet surfaces
- Be safe while on ladders
- Be careful moving large heavy objects
- Beware of flying objects during a tornado
- Be prepared for a flood
- Be mindful of your nearest dry place when working outdoors
- Wear gloves to protect yourself from skin irritations, cuts, and contaminants
- Watch out for tick bites
- Protect your hearing when operating machinery
- “When thunder roars, go indoors”
- Use insect repellents when working outside
- Familiarise yourself with spring PPE in all weather conditions
With the sunshine well and truly on its way, we hope our spring safety topics gave you a good overview of some of the key themes to cover throughout the season to keep your staff safe. Don’t forget to review our March safety topics, April safety topics and May safety topics to help you plan your safety calendar throughout the spring.