As temperatures across the UK plummeted this week, and wintery conditions really do start to set in, now is the time to ensure that you understand how to keep your workforce safe and well by effectively managing the risks associated with Winter.
Below we summarise the different winter hazards and risks – both within the workplace itself and the environment outside the company buildings.
Risks to consider
- An increase in slips, trips and falls – With colder weather comes more rain, snow and ice. All of which can increase the likelihood of accidents. High-risk areas include carparks, steps, ramps, pathways and wet leaves.
- Lower levels of light – During the winter months, we experience darker mornings and evenings – combining this with slippery surfaces causes the likelihood of accidents to increase.
- Driving to work – Driving in the winter carries many risks, road conditions decline, visibility is reduced and stopping distances increase to name a few. For a comprehensive list of risks and precautions with driving in the winter, read this article.
- Safe working temperatures – Despite there being no legal minimum temperature for a workplace, the HSE’s approved code of practice suggests the temperature should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius, however, it is ultimately up to the employer to decide what is comfortable based on the circumstances.
- Transmission control for infectious illness – whilst contagious illness is not unique to the winter season, many illnesses such as Flu and Covid generally spike in the colder months. Employees should think about the measures they have in place to minimise the associated risks.
What can you do to manage these Risks?
Whilst you are not expected to eliminate all Risk, you do have a legal responsibility to do everything “reasonably practical” to protect people from harm and this does include hazards due to wintery weather. Your responsibility extends beyond your workforce to cover all workers, contractors and members of the public who enter your premises.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, carrying out Risk Assessments is a legal requirement.
For more guidance on how to mitigate the Risks associated with Winter read this helpful blog from the FSB.
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