It seems like only yesterday that we were warning you about the dangers of sun exposure, but as sure as day follows night, here comes some advice regarding winter working.
We are quite lucky to live in a temperate country where extremes of weather are quite rare. That said, when a cold snap does descend, we need to take steps to protect our workforce.
Snow, ice and frost present safety and health hazards. As temperatures drop it is important that workers keep warm. The cold is not only uncomfortable, but it can lead to impaired decision making, a loss of dexterity and slowed reaction times. Layers of clothing that can be added or removed, gloves and insulated footwear will go some way to reducing the risks but regular breaks and the opportunity to take hot drinks are also important.
Slips, trips and falls can arise not only from snow and ice, but also from wet and decaying leaves or mud brought onto polished surfaces by dirty footwear. Make sure you have arrangements in place to keep access routes free of these hazards and that your workers know what to do should floors become slippery.
The changing of the clocks at the end of October has meant less hours of daylight and ensuring adequate illumination for workplaces and access routes is essential; even more so where there is an interface between vehicles and pedestrians. Employees may need reminding to replace hi-viz garments when they are putting on or taking off other layers of clothes.
Work at height and Temporary Works will also need considering in the event of a heavy snow fall or extreme weather conditions. Make sure that they have been designed to withstand any additional loads and that they are inspected by a competent person before continuing work.
Finally, there is always a lot of chatter regarding sweeping snow. HSE advice is that prevention is key. Take action when freezing conditions are forecast. Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface. Use grit or similar, on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions. Remember to remove any warning cones or signs once the hazard has passed.