Do you need to approach health and safety differently during winter? We look at 3 things you should take into consideration.
The clocks have been wound back an hour, the temperature is falling and it’s dark at 4pm – winter has arrived and it is that time of the year again to look at health and safety in the colder months.
Keeping yourself and other workers safe in the winter doesn’t just apply to those who work outdoors. Everyone needs to take extra precautions from a construction worker to someone sitting at their desk in a warm office.
In this week’s blog, we are going to have a look at some basic health and safety measures to keep in mind over the winter period.
Ensure Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Is Used
While this is a legal requirement all year round, extra thought needs to be given in adverse weather conditions.
Proper PPE includes waterproof clothing to combat against rain, sleet or even snow and even things such as gloves need to be thought about carefully. If a worker requires good movement in their hands and fingers to operate machinery safely then standard gloves might not be suitable and the employer should look into gloves made from material that provides adequate movement. The same goes for bulky clothing such as jackets.
Effective Personal Protective Equipment should keep employees healthy against cold and wet weather while also allowing them to do their job correctly and operate machinery safely.
Carry Out Winter Risk Assessments
Icy ground, wet and slippery surfaces and low lighting are all things that can cause an increase in accidents happening during the winter months.
This is why it is important to carry out winter risk assessments to maintain safety in the workplace. Areas being worked in and also tasks that are ordinarily safe during other parts of the year might not necessarily be safe over the cold season.
The HSE provides good advice on what to look out for and also what to take into account when working in difficult conditions.
Don’t Overheat The Office
We blogged about safety and workplace temperatures back in January – Can You Get A Half Day Because Your Workplace Is Too Cold? – and while there is no legal minimum temperature that you can get sent home (although the code of practice is 16 degrees Celsius), reasonable adjustments and considerations need to be taken by the employer.
That being said, overheating an office because of the cold weather isn’t good for health and safety either. Overly hot offices aren’t comfortable to work in and it can actually contribute to the spread of germs and infections. It also has an impact on productivity too – the daily 3pm slump will be much more noticeable.
Keeping the office at a comfortable temperature throughout the day is key to maintaining health and safety during winter.
Working Safely In The Winter Months
The cold weather, dark mornings and evenings and adverse conditions such as rain, sleet and snow all pose problems from a health and safety perspective even if you predominately work indoors.
Extra consideration needs to be taken to ensure that staff are protected and kept safe against the elements. Some tasks that are safe to carry out in the summer might not be in the winter.
Accidents can occur all year round however during winter there are more problems to contend with so maintaining safety at work needs careful thought but with proper advice and winter focused risk assessments then the chances of incidents occurring will be greatly reduced.