21 November 2012
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to safeguard a business and its employees from the big freeze and following these simple steps will avoid work accident compensation claims and costly investigations by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
As a leading provider of Health & Safety compliance solutions to UK businesses, Citation are experienced in delivering advice on how to deal with adverse weather conditions and their impact on a business.
Here, Alastair Hall, Head of Health & Safety at Citation, suggests some simple ways to look after colleagues and clients when sub zero temperatures strike:
“Knowing the premises inside and out is the first and most important step when a company is preparing for icy weather conditions. Employers should identify all of the areas on the premises where slippery conditions are most likely to arise, as both drivers and pedestrians could be affected.
These areas include access roads, pathways, car parks, steps, slopes and unofficial shortcuts (because everybody loves shaving a second or two off their trip to work, but these areas can be the most dangerous). An acute knowledge of the site allows the areas which are worst affected by extreme weather to be closed or isolated and alternative routes, in and out of the premises or from one area to the next, to be devised.
Once you know your premises, it is important to be aware of the weather conditions you are going to be faced with. By monitoring local weather forecasts and remaining aware of the conditions, it is possible to anticipate a plummet in the temperature before it happens.
A healthy stock of gritting material (rock salt) and equipment is useful to have in reserve, but this grit is most effective when laid before surfaces become icy; so keeping one eye on the weatherman can be a massive help. Lay grit the night before an expected freeze and allow the rock salt to dissolve.
In the event of snowfall, it is advisable to clear fresh or compacted snow before gritting these surfaces to allow the salt to do the trick. Ensure those tasked with the removal of snow and ice are suitably kitted out with warm clothing and gloves and non-slip footwear. Areas subject to high volumes of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicles, should be cleared first since heavily compacted snow can turn into increasingly hazardous patches of ice.”
“Encourage staff to wear suitable footwear and enforce low speed limits on drivers to reduce the risk of pedestrians slipping and cars skidding. Where possible provide segregation between the two, so that pedestrians and cars don’t collide.
Finally, remember that the same emergency protocols that apply in fair weather are required in a cold snap too. That means keeping external fire exit doors free from obstructions caused by snow and ice, ensuring melted snow and ice do not cause slip hazards on steps and stairways, ensuring that water pipes are well lagged and nominated persons know the whereabouts of the stopcock and how to operate that.It is also important to agree a safe meeting point for the workforce in the event of an emergency which requires the evacuation of the premises, e.g. due to a power cut or flood caused by a burst pipe.”
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