With longer nights drawing in and colder weather approaching it is time to start preparing for the winter months. We can’t change the weather, however we do need to adapt what we do over the winter period to keep people safe.
Below are some winter safety tips to help your business when managing external, internal areas and vehicles this winter.
- Check workplaces and areas leading to and from them (walkways, car parking areas etc) are safe. Ensure that sufficient lighting is available, and that fallen leaves, moss and algae, blocked drains etc are cleared regularly.
- Employees should be reminded to wear suitable clothing, extra layers and sturdy footwear with good grip whilst they are outside in very cold weather or where there is a risk of snow/ice.
- Clear snow / use grit to reduce slips or accidents occurring to staff, customers or visitors and maintain records. When clearing snow/ice, there are two key points to remember:
- You must not make conditions worse- creating a sheer icy surface by pouring boiling water over the pavement and then walking away is not an option
- You must do a good job and keep on top of the job (reacting to changing conditions). You'll probably have to tackle an area more than once.
- Further advice on gritting and snow clearing
- Carry out regular checks on workplaces to help identify any issues before they cause an accident.
- Provide weather mats in entrances or reception areas. Mops or other means of drying wet floors should be provided as well as signage to warn persons in the area if the floor is wet.
- Ensure heating systems and boilers are subject to maintenance and inspection to avoid failure of heating and possible issues regarding the release of carbon monoxide.
- Monitor the temperature of your workplace, find out more about the guideline workplace temperature and thermal comfort of your employees.
- Drivers need to carry out vehicle checks including fuel, coolant, screen wash, oil levels, tyres, lights & electrics etc. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) suggest and emergency kit for vehicles which includes carrying the following;
- Tow rope, shovel, Wellington boots, hazard warning sign, de-icing equipment, first aid kit, working torch, car blanket, warm clothing, emergency rations, charged mobile phone.
- Company procedures should give advice on dealing with breakdowns & accidents.
- In very bad conditions, it may be necessary to avoid driving completely unless you absolutely have to make the journey. Organisations should have procedures in place for staff who are stranded or are unable to make the journey in to work.
- Route planning & checking weather forecasts should be carried out before journeys are made so that alternative routes or arrangements can be made if required. Local radio stations and traffic reports can provide useful advice whilst travelling to help avoid delays.
- Remember, a single journey can lead us through very different weather and driving conditions, so preparation is vital to help us adapt to any changes.
- Allow extra time to drive, walk or travel.
Alcumus PSM Health & Safety Consultants can advise on any of the above winter safety preparations. To speak to one of our H&S consultants who can advise you further on 01484 439930 or email [email protected].
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Written by Janice Jones, Health and Safety Consultant