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Hazards of Autumn – Leaves, Frost, Deer and Darkness

- September 23, 2019 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Autumn has arrived. In many parts of the country, autumn brings about new safety concerns including slip and fall hazards, extreme changes in weather conditions, and less daylight. If you have employees that are working outside in the autumn weather, consider covering the following topics are your next safety meeting.

Leaves and frost can create slippery conditions

This is especially true for people who work early morning hours. Most people haven’t switched over to their winter footwear since the temperatures have not dropped low enough, but having good traction on shoes is still important. When you discuss this hazard with your staff, ask everyone to look at the bottoms of their shoes. Are they flat and worn? If so, encourage them to replace their shoes.

Besides getting your employees in suitable footwear, encourage them to remove wet leaves from their work area daily. They may have to clear frost and ice from their work area or vehicle as well. Provide them with ice melt (stock up early) and the proper equipment to clear the frost and ice. Remind your drivers that clearing the entire windshield before driving is the only acceptable practice. Clearing only a small spot to see out of is not safe.

Weather in a large travel radius can change drastically.

If employees have a large radius of travel during the day, make sure you start looking at the weather conditions for their entire region. A sunny day in Chicago can be a wintry mix in Northern Indiana or Iowa. Extreme temperature changes can also lead to overheating for some sensitive employees. Encourage everyone to dress in layers so they can shed outerwear when the 28-degree morning turns into a 60-degree afternoon. And water is still crucial for hydration even when the temps are not extreme.

Daylight hours are limited in the fall.

This may mean arriving at the job-site before daybreak and driving home in the dark. Remind employees to use extra caution to prevent trips, slips, and falls and other injuries related to poor visibility. After the annual time change (for most of the country), drivers may find they are driving into the sunrise or sunset now. This can result in significant traffic delays so plan accordingly.

Slow-moving farm equipment.

Driving in the fall in rural areas also means driving around slow-moving farm equipment. Remind employees that should only be passing slow-moving vehicles in approved passing zones and only when it is safe to cross. Remind them that arriving on time is not worth risking their life. For tips on driving during harvest season, check out our other blog, “Driving Risk During the Fall Harvest.”

Wildlife and Deer

Deer can also be an issue in the fall in both urban and rural settings. I’ve seen deer cross roadways in high traffic areas near Chicago, so remind your drivers to always be on the lookout for deer when driving by forested areas. You can find tips about avoiding deer in our other blog, “Deer in the Fall.”