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Warm workers’ hearts when it’s cold outside

5 ways to keep employees safe from winter’s danger

On balmy summer days, office workers often envy people whose jobs allow them to escape the confines of the cubicle. But during this time of year, when Old Man Winter has his chilly grip on much of the nation, working outdoors loses its luster.

Construction workers, truck drivers, telephone and cable repairmen (and women), toll-booth workers, road workers … the list of people who do their jobs while exposed to the elements is long and varied. While their indoor counterparts are worried about catching the cold or flu, outdoor workers must also guard against frostbite, hypothermia, icy conditions and wind chills.

Caring employers should pay special attention to winter-weather warriors by taking care to ensure their safety. Here are five ways to protect your workers and your business:

  1. Advise employees to dress appropriately for various chilly conditions: cold, wind and wet. Encourage them to layer their clothing to adjust to changing temperatures and to wear thermal underwear that wicks moisture away from the skin.
  2. Remind employees to stop working and seek shelter immediately if they experience pain or numbness in their extremities, such as their fingers or toes. Stress that they should immediately seek medical care if frostbite sets in.
  3. Provide outdoor workers with company phones or encourage them to carry their personal mobile devices. That way, they can call for help if they're stranded by snow or ice.
  4. If possible, schedule outdoor work for the warmest hours of the day. Remind workers to take periodic breaks in dry shelters.
  5. Encourage employees to winterize their work and personal vehicles with blankets and cold-weather gear, as well as with emergency kits.

Danger lurks at home too

Business leaders are naturally concerned about the effect on-the-job injuries have on employees' well-being, as well as on their companies' finances and productivity. But off-the-job safety issues should be top of mind for employers too, because Americans are actually safer at work than at home: The National Safety Council reports that for every at-work injury, another three injuries take place away from the job.1

Many employers increase workers' peace of mind and generate goodwill by making short-term disability and accident insurance policies available as part of their benefits plans. Here's the lowdown on each:

  • Disability insurance – When an employee suffers a disabling injury, initial thoughts focus on the journey to healing. Those are often followed by questions about returning to work and paying the bills. 

    Disabled workers may not lose only their ability to earn a living, but also savings and retirement funds. They may even face losing their homes. By offering voluntary short-term disability insurance, employers offer them the confidence that comes with knowing benefits can be used to help pay the mortgage or rent, as well as for gas, groceries, education expenses – in short, any bill that threatens a family's financial security. 

  • Accident insurance – Accident insurance helps employees stay ahead of the medical and out-of-pocket expenses that add up quickly after an injury. Again, benefits can be used not just for emergency treatment, hospital stays and medical exams, but also for other expenses workers may face, such as transportation costs, lodging needs and daily living expenses.

    The protection accident insurance provides may be particularly important to employees who are generally healthy and have not met the deductibles on their major medical insurance policies, because benefits can be used to pay out-of-pocket medical costs, including deductibles and co-payments.

Here's another reason robust benefits plans benefit employers in addition to employees: Workers surveyed as part of the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report 2 said a strong benefits package increases their company loyalty, productivity and job satisfaction – and also plays a major role when they're deciding whether to remain in their current jobs or move on to jobs with better benefits. 

Sources

2 The 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report, a study conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, accessed Nov. 22, 2013 - http://www.aflac.com/brokers/insights/aflac_workforces_report/default.aspx

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.

Z131266
12/13