Manage Workplace Safety During Winter

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, it’s a legal requirement to conduct workplace risk assessments. This duty becomes even more pressing during winter as colder conditions present additional hazards.

To keep staff, customers and visiting clients safe, it’s imperative for organisations to implement safety measures in readiness for winter proactively. Consider these tips:

  • Review work from height—Winter can bring frequent wet and windy conditions that could make work from height more dangerous. Ideally, delay work from height until suitable weather is forecast. If this isn’t possible, take steps to lessen the risk. For instance, employees using ladders should ensure that three points of contact are continually maintained and a second person holds the ladder for additional stability.
  • Avoid slips and trips—The likelihood of slips and trips increases in winter due to rain and ice on surfaces. Swiftly clean up spillages and ensure wet floors are signposted with warning signs. Furthermore, consider which outdoor areas could be affected by ice (eg car parks, sloped areas and building entrances) and plan to de-ice such areas when freezing temperatures are forecast. The most common de-icing method is rock salt spreading, a process known as gritting.
  • Review vehicle safety—Low light levels and drizzly conditions can affect driver visibility. As such, workplace vehicle accidents (eg forklifts) may be more likely in winter. To aid prevention, ensure drivers correctly wear appropriate personal protective equipment (eg high-visibility jackets, helmets and steel toe boots). Additionally, perform frequent vehicle safety checks to identify possible defects.
  • Prepare for cold stress—Outside workers could be susceptible to cold stress—a serious condition where the body can no longer maintain its normal temperature. To mitigate risk, provide employees with appropriate clothing for the work planned and the temperature expected. Additionally, try to ensure that heavier lifting and intense labour are done during the warmer parts of the day.

For more guidance on conducting safety audits of your organisation, speak to our specialist County Down-based risk management team today.