Safe On The Job Driving for the Lone Worker During Winter Months
Since the lone worker is often a remote worker, driving is often a routine part of their job tasks and therefore, should be included when considering worker safety. Unfortunately, with the winter months and the cold that comes along with them, drivers face even more hazards when on the road. Here are some tips for the lone worker in order to maintain worker safety when driving in cold and freezing conditions.
Know the Weather in Plenty of Advance and Prepare
All too often, drivers do not become aware of freezing conditions until the moment that they walk outside to get in their car. A big issue here involves the possibility of the car’s windshield being iced over, making it harder to see in dangerous road conditions. Many times, the driver, especially the lone worker who needs to get to their job, is in too much of a rush to properly defrost their windows and may end up compromising their vision when they should actually be taking extra precaution. By simply checking the weather the night before or even just an hour in advance, the lone worker can start up their car to both warm it up and take care of the defrosting issue before they have to leave. However, when starting your car to warm it up, be careful: if the vehicle is in an enclosed area, such as a parking garage do NOT do this, as it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
If the weather forecast shows potentially dangerous driving conditions, the best thing to always do is try to delay driving until conditions improve. However, if the lone worker cannot wait, they should always notify someone, preferably an employer or colleague that they are leaving, where they are going and the time that they expect to be there. They should also double check their car’s tire pressure, battery and brakes, as these are vastly important and easily compromisable in the cold weather.
Avoid Parking Brakes, Sudden Movements and Cruise Control
In winter conditions, the lone worker should avoid using their parking brake to either slow down or stop completely. Other actions that cause sudden movements, such as quickly accelerating or decelerating, should be avoided as well. Finally, the driver should not use their cruise control at all in these dangerous road conditions. With the slick, icy condition of the roads, all of the previously mentioned actions make it highly likely that the vehicle will slip and slide. This is the dangerous point when a driver can lose all control of their vehicle and crash.
Take the Appropriate Actions when Trouble Hits
Should the lone worker find themselves in a situation where they become stranded or stuck in the snow, the worst thing that they can do is to try to push their vehicle out of the snow. With the combination of snow build up and the slick slippery conditions that this causes, it is likely that the vehicle could become further stuck or even become damaged. Worst of all, the likelihood of the car slipping, sliding, falling is high, and the vehicle could cause serious injury to the person attempting to move it. Additionally, unless you are in a remote area, added precaution needs to be taken in being mindful of other drivers whose vehicles are at great risk of easily sliding into you or your vehicle while you are attempting to push your vehicle out of the snow. Instead, the lone worker should stay put and contact the police or roadside assistance to help them make their way out. Should they be without a phone or signal, they should signal for help using a brightly colored item. They should tie it to their antenna or roll it up in a car window if at all possible.
Car trips remain a necessary part of life, and for the lone worker, a necessary part of their job, even in winter conditions. It is important to prepare, be cautious and react appropriately in order to ensure worker safety while driving in winter conditions. To learn more about driving safely in winter conditions, see this article by the National Safety Council.