The winter weather can pose a risk to your business, as an employer or business owner it is your duty to guard against hazards caused. Snow, ice, rain and the darker mornings and evenings can all pose a threat, here are precautions which should be taken in such conditions.
Ice, frost and snow
These are some of the more obvious dangers during winter, to combat this identify outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected, such as building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.
Keep up to date with weather forecasts and monitor the temperature, prevention is key. Before freezing temperatures hit grit areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions and consider covering walkways or even diverting pedestrians to less slippery ones. In wet or rainy conditions discourage people from taking shortcuts over grass or dirt which are likely to become slippery and even consider converting existing shortcuts into proper paths. You can find more advice on clearing snow and ice here.
Rock salt is the most commonly used material to grit areas as it is cheap and effective.
‘Salt can stop ice forming and cause existing ice or snow to melt. It is most effective when it is ground down, but this will take far longer on pedestrian areas than on roads.
Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times are early in the evening before the frost settles and/or early in the morning before employees arrive. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.’ (https://www.hse.gov.uk/logistics/slips-trips-bad-weather.htm)
Hazard signs and cones
Outdoor weather can be tracked indoors and cause walkways and entrances to become wet and slippery. Although it is important to keep the working environment safe and clean, it isn’t practical to mop up after each person who enters. Use warning signs and cones for such areas but remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored and become ineffective.
Leaves & light
Another common risk is wet and decaying leaves, the fallen leaves become slippery when wet themselves as well as hiding any hazards which may be beneath them. Make sure to regularly sweep up and remove leaves to avoid this. During the winter months, we also get less natural light, make sure there is enough lighting in and around your workplace or business so that people can see any potential hazards at different times of the day, this may be by adding new lights or changing the bulb type of existing lights.
The basics to keep in mind are:
- Clearing snow and ice
- Diverting to less slippery areas
- Signs (remembering to remove the signs once the hazard has gone)
- Prevention and monitoring weather forecasts
Also ensure your employees take appropriate action such as:
- Wearing boots with good grip/ tread
- Wearing appropriate winter clothing at all times
- Wearing high visibility clothing until the sun is fully up and as soon as the sun goes down
- Taking regular breaks to warm up and sip on hot beverages (if working outside or in cold conditions)
- Staying at home from work when sick to avoid worsening symptoms
- Remaining aware of safety protocols and ways of working at all times
Plan Insurance Brokers is an independent, market-leading commercial insurance brokerage. We arrange high-quality cover and provide intelligent insurance solutions to UK businesses and have done so for 30 years. Click here to find out more.