Worried about the effect the extreme weather may have on your business this year?
6th December 2011
Cold mornings, frost and the possibility of snow are becoming increasingly familiar weather conditions during UK winters. Over the past few years extreme weather has forced parts of the UK to come to a complete standstill, causing chaos for businesses throughout the UK.
The HSE’s Approved Code of Practice to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 relating to traffic routes and pedestrian walkways, states:
“Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice. This may involve gritting, snow clearing and closure of some routes, particularly outside stairs, ladders and walkways on roofs”.
Therefore, businesses can minimise potential injury from slips on snow and ice by taking the following steps: -
Simple Planning Steps
· identify the external areas of your premises where slippery conditions are most likely to occur for both vehicles and pedestrians, e.g. on path-ways, car parks, access roads, steps, sloped surfaces and unofficial routes regularly used as short-cuts
· monitor local weather forecasts and be aware of local conditions so that poor weather conditions can be anticipated
· keep a stock of gritting material for your premises and suitable equipment to carry out the gritting process
· where staff work out doors, make sure they have suitable footwear to reduce the risk of slipping
· ensure that adequate steps are taken to protect vulnerable groups, e.g. disabled persons, new and expectant mothers
· where practicable, prevent access to non-essential areas where there is a higher risk of slipping and designate safer alternative routes for vehicles and pedestrians, e.g. use of barriers, cones and signs
· enforce low speed limits to reduce the risk of vehicles skidding
· provide adequate segregation between vehicles and pedestrians to reduce the risk from vehicles skidding and colliding with pedestrians.
Lindsay Hill, Chief Executive of Citation plc says:
“The most common method to prevent external surfaces becoming icy is gritting the night before a frost. Gritting by laying rock salt is the usual means of stopping ice forming and melting snow and ice. To prevent ice forming grit should be laid when temperatures below zero are expected. Gritting is most effective when it is carried out early the night before a frost or early in the morning before staff arrive to allow the salt sufficient time to dissolve.”
Whilst focusing on the outdoors employers often forget the impact the winter weather can have in the indoor working environment. It is important for employers to clean up any wet corridors, reception areas and particularly near to entrances and place “caution wet floor” signs in these areas, ensuring all employees and visitors etc are aware of the hazard, to limit potential slips.
Finally, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations state:
“During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable”.
There is no legal minimum temperature set for an indoor workplace. The temperature should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Lindsay Hill continues “Sometimes it is difficult to maintain reasonable temperatures in, e.g. particularly cold rooms or warehouses where there are often large open doors. In these circumstances you should provide suitable measures such as localised heating, facilities to make hot drinks and personal protective clothing, such as warm overalls as a compromise to your staff.”