When the weather gets extreme it must be made clear who takes the final decision in terms of when and if people should continue to work. The five stages of risk assessment should be applied, and a decision made by a competent person.
What about lone workers and contractors?
With many people now being lone workers or contractors, many dangerous situations can occur. It is important to have a way of contacting all staff and work contractors, you must make sure that communication is maintained. Send regular emails updating staff of weather changes when possible.
Keep an eye on the weather throughout the day, taking care that employees don’t get trapped at work and put at risk if snow starts to fall. Communication lines are so important
Driving in cold weather
If you drive as part of your job description make sure you and your employer allow plenty of extra time for journeys, also check for alternative routes as some roads may be closed. Make sure your car is equipped with items that might be needed in times of troublesome weather.
If working outdoors, make sure PPE is provided, including suitable gloves, make sure as you put more layers on that your high vis is always the last layer.
What do I need to look out for in bad weather?
Your employer can not control the temperature if you are working in an outside area, but they are required to try and to reduce the impact that weather has on your health.
Main issues will be:
Slips and falls
Wearing proper clothing (lots of layers)
Protect ears, face, hands and feet
Drinking plenty of fluids
Look out for colleagues
What are employers’ duties?
Employers have general duties to ensure health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to assess and control risks from work under the Management of Health, Safety, and Welfare Regulations (MHSWR). These legal requirements cover working outside, in the cold.
Supply warm work clothes to employees, provide warm rest areas and hot drinks, and allow breaks to be taken at appropriate intervals.
What if my child’s school is closed and I can’t get childcare?
The law states that parents are entitled to time off to deal with incidents involving their child while they are at school – and snow days are likely to fall under these rules. Although, that there is no right to be paid for your time – so you could end up taking an unpaid day off.
Stay safe and healthy and watch out for the Beast from the East!