top tips to keep your workforce safe in winter feature image

Top Tips To Keep Your Workforce Safe In Winter

Posted on 26th Oct, 2017 | By Lorretta Tatham

Your safety is our priority here at Browns Safety. We’re a good way into autumn, but it’s already time to start thinking about winter, and how it might impact the operation of your organisation, both in a day-to-day and long term sense. Winter brings with it a whole host of potential threats to health, including low temperatures, adverse weather and reduced amounts of light – which means reduced visibility. In order to mitigate the risks, employers must focus both on making the working environment safe, as well as providing their employees with appropriate equipment.

Dealing With Environmental Hazards

snow covered site

This is especially relevant for businesses employing workers performing their duties outdoors, as they ideally need to be able to carry out their tasks without being impacted by low temperatures, wind, rain, sleet or snow. Not only can these have an adverse effect on employee morale, but also pose a risk to their physical health.

For example, wet and chilly weather can easily lead to slips and falls. Rainwater can collect in puddles, and apart from being slipping hazards in themselves, if they’re deep enough they can also conceal unevenness in the terrain, such as potholes or ditches. While employees must use their own initiative to avoid them in outside environments, in warehouses and workshop floors employers must be sure to deal with such liquid obstacles promptly, so that they don’t pose a slipping hazard.

On a similar note, ice – especially ‘black ice’ – presents even more of a threat. Black ice, or ‘invisible ice’ is defined as a thin coating of transparent ice, which makes it exceptionally difficult to see. Therefore, it’s even more of a direct risk to workers, and can even affect vehicles like delivery vans or forklift trucks. Although again, this is even less likely to be brought to indoor environments, a good strategy for dealing with ice and black ice is to signpost it clearly, so that all employees are aware of its location and can therefore take steps to protect themselves.

Providing Appropriate Equipment and Protective Clothing

ppe gear for winter

It’s absolutely crucial that all employees are provided with the correct clothing best suited to keep them warm, comfortable, and above all safe as they carry out their duties. (And this includes waterproofing!) It’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone in the business should be equipped with the same heavy-duty clothing.

Some jobs require exceptional manual dexterity, which can be hindered by gloves that are too thick or heavy, and can arguably expose workers to danger in a way they wouldn’t have been if they kept their hands un-gloved; for example, they may get their hands caught in machinery due to the bulk of the gloves. To effectively deal with this, employers should do their research on the appropriate type of equipment to purchase (in this case, gloves that are balanced between protection and freedom of movement), rather than simply utilising the first general-purpose equipment to hand. However, two excellent mainstays for PPE include: boots with excellent grip, and high-visibility clothing to reduce the chances of accidents due to poor visibility. Depending on your industry, you may well be able to think of a few more immediately.

At Browns Safety, we run a number of access equipment courses presented by our very own experts, all of which are aimed to cut down on avoidable workplace accidents. For example, our manual handling course deals with the basics of keeping safe when performing outdoor work, while our 1-day emergency first aid course trains delegates in appropriate courses of action should the worst occur. You can book your place on one of these courses by clicking on the links above, or by calling us on 01282 615517.

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