Planning for Winter Workplace Risks
Winter brings many risks to workplaces across a variety of sectors. Many different organisations may need to make changes during the winter not only to keep operations running smoothly but also to ensure employees are safe.
When preparing for winter and how it may impact the workplace, organisations should consider the following steps:
- Assess risks. Employers have a legal duty to assess risks in the workplace and identify ways to manage them. While this responsibility applies throughout the year, winter introduces new or enhanced hazards that must be considered. For example, tasks that require good visibility may carry additional risk due to weather conditions or reduced daylight.
- Clear surfaces. Slips and trips are already one of the most prevalent causes of workplace injuries and accidents. Ice and snow on pavements or in car parks make these incidents even more likely. Take steps to minimise the risk of employees experiencing a fall, such as gritting outdoor surfaces thoroughly and increasing the cleaning of indoor areas that may become wet or slippery.
- Provide protection. Employees who work outdoors may be subject to particularly severe risks related to winter conditions. It’s necessary for outdoor workers to have proper gear and attire, including warm hats, gloves and coats. Employers must also ensure that such gear does not interfere with existing protections like eye protection or safety waistcoats.
- Monitor closely. Lone workers are already often at greater risk than colleagues who spend their days with each other. When outdoor conditions become a serious hazard, this becomes even more of an issue. Consider ways to reduce lone work. In cases where employees working alone remains necessary, implement additional precautions, such as more frequent communication to better track location and well-being.