Don’t be caught cold this winter – listen to our webinar, which we hosted on 6 December 2018, for expert advice on preparing for the icy blasts to come.
Whatever type of business you are involved with, make sure you know about the legal responsibilities and obligations around dealing with the worst of winter, as described by our in-house risk management team.
The webinar will offer you advice and guidance on how to better protect your:
Presented by: John Neil – Risk Management Adviser
Please click on the link below to view the webinar:
As we begin to brace ourselves for the coming colder weather it is important that we plan ahead and are prepared for anything it can throw at us, as prevention is far better than cure.
Businesses, property owners and people can experience many hazards in winter, probably more than any other time during the year and fall foul of problems caused by cold, icy and very wet conditions.
These problems can apply to any company that is public facing and based on the high street, on an industrial estate and visited by clients or a factory with a large workforce. Whatever type of business you run you should endeavour to run it as safely and effectively as possible during winter months to help reduce hazards in order to prevent accidents or incidents.
Did you know that a 1-centimetre thickness of freshly fallen snow at 4°c covering 100 square metres of roofing weighs approximately 100kg?
Snow and ice can cause many problems for buildings such as:
Common sense activities can help alleviate any problem winter can throw at us:
Additionally, if the premises are protected by an automatic sprinkler installation, ensure any vulnerable parts are trace heated.
These are the most common types of accidents during the winter months and, thankfully, consequences are normally minor bumps and bruises. But, some can be more serious especially as we now have an ageing population and workforce. In fact, over 7,000 people per year are admitted to the hospital through falls during winter.
These type of incidents increase over the winter months due to one or a combination of factors such as:
Despite scare stories in the tabloid press, the usual suspects will spring to mind – that clearing and gritting of walkways could lead to legal action being taken against you in event of a fall – actually, nothing is further from the truth. In fact, the HSE applaud the action taken in this respect.
The HSE said it is their objective to protect life and limb, not endanger it. They say that fear of litigation contributes to poor H&S and stories like the ones that appeared in the press do nothing to remove that fear.
The Management of Health Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 state “as far as is reasonably practicable, every floor in a workplace and every traffic route in a workplace shall be kept free from obstruction and any article or substance which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall”.
You should minimise the risks present to your employees and visitors and plan for adverse weather by:
With daylight hours short, you should re-assess the adequacy of lighting in the workplace.
Inadequate lighting can lead to poor performance, errors and cause eye irritation and headaches. Conversely, lighting that is too bright can also cause problems.
Correct lighting levels do have beneficial effects:
Remember – lighting requirements vary for different work areas, but artificial light may be required as winter daylight may not be sufficient. Examples of differing minimum lighting levels are:
You should consider installing indoor and outdoor thermometers as they will help you identify needs for increasing heating within a building or give you advice on the potential for snow and ice.
Indoor working temperatures should be a minimum of 16°c but this can reduce to 13°c if work includes vigorous physical effort.
As temperatures drop, employers have a duty of care to protect their employees against wintry conditions and they should manage their health and safety in this environment.
Employees working outdoors in low temperatures can lose more body heat than they generate if they don’t move about much. This can lead to slower brain function and thus increase the likelihood of an accident. Wind-chill should also be taken into account as this can cause greater heat loss than purely cold weather.
To help protect employees from the effect of cold weather, and thus reduce the likelihood of an accident or incident, appropriate PPE should be issued. This can include (but is not limited to):
If employees wear hard hats, ensure anything worn underneath does not affect its integrity. PPE suppliers will normally advise on the suitability of headgear that can be worn beneath a hard hat.
Hoods should preferably not be worn as they can reduce visibility and movement.
Employees working outdoors should be provided with facilities to allow them to warm up.
Road traffic accidents increase up to 10 times the norm during winter months, and this statistic increases the risk of one of your drivers being involved in an accident, so:
Be prepared and drive safely this winter by reading yourself and your vehicles for severe weather. Simple steps involve:
In the run-up to winter, it’s now a perfect time to service your vehicle, giving you peace of mind in the knowledge that it has been professionally prepared for the coming months.
Regular maintenance and checks throughout winter are also important, and your winter vehicle maintenance routine should include checks of the following:
Always be ready for potential adverse weather. When bad weather does arrive, decide if it is actually necessary to drive. If conditions are really bad, is it possible to travel by other means? Can you rearrange your trip or avoid making the journey by using the phone or email?
If it’s deemed appropriate and you decide you really must travel:
Keep a Winter Emergency Kit in your vehicle, containing:
Having a well-maintained vehicle is the easiest way to avoid breaking down but breakdowns are more common during periods of cold weather and challenging road conditions, particularly snow and ice. In the unfortunate event of a breakdown, always remember “safety first” for you, your passengers and other motorists.
Even with preventative measures, you may still suffer a loss whether it be to property or personnel.
If you unable to operate how do you manage the needs and expectations of your employees, suppliers and customers?
All businesses of any size should have a simple but effective business continuity plan to help save time in the period immediately after a loss and help you recover more quickly.
A business continuity plan is not ‘rocket science’ – it is a sensible look at all operations within a business from a “what if” scenario with solutions put forward on how the challenge can be overcome. However, 75% of small businesses have no business continuity plan in place.
As the festive season approaches it would be very remiss not to mention certain aspects of safety in the home:
A colourless, odourless gas given off by all fossil fuel burning appliances such as gas and oil boilers, gas fires, wood burners and open hearth fires.
This gas can build up if appliances or flues have not been properly installed or maintained or can even build up in poorly ventilated rooms.
The HSE state that 11 people a year die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning so please ensure that all appliances are serviced by competent people and flues are swept and kept free from obstruction or blockage.
Accidents frequently happen at Christmas generally due to additional excitement, more people in the house and an increase in the consumption of “festive spirit”. With just a little care and forward planning, most accidents can be avoided.
Particular attention should be paid to button cell Lithium batteries. These are the tiny batteries that are found in toys, remote controls, musical cards and other household items. They can easily be swallowed by small children and are toxic and can do devastating damage to internal organs.
Scientific research is proving extreme weather is becoming much more common, so make sure your buildings are safe places for people to work, shop, visit or live during winter months especially.
Assess hazards both outside and inside the building and as far as is reasonably practicable, provide solutions that help stop accidents and incidents from occurring.
It makes sense to ensure you protect your buildings, business, employees and anyone affected by your actions from the adverse effects of winter.