11 Dec 2017, 14:14

True Grit - Winter Workplace Safety For Ice, Frost & Snow

The winter months can bring lots of snow, frost and ice to parts of the UK. At this time of year workplaces in particular need to take precautions and make preparations to prevent injuries and accidents which might arise due to adverse winter weather conditions. 

If an employee slips because their employer has not taken adequate precautions against extreme weather - such as snow, frost and ice - then claims can run into the tens of thousands of pounds.

Every employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace and this includes taking “reasonable” measures to clear snow, frost and ice if conditions suggest certain areas could become dangerous.

Don’t take the risk! Make sure you keep your staff and workplace visitors safe this winter by following this advice...

What’s The Official Advice From The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)?

The UK HSE’s Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Approved Code of Practice and Guidance states the following about protecting your business premises from bad weather:

Regulation 116: “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.”

So, that gives you pretty much the basics of which areas you need to take into consideration and what sort of action you may need to take.

But let’s give you a few more concrete and detailed tips to help you keep a safe working environment during bad weather...

Minimizing Workplace Risk From Snow, Frost & Ice

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

  • Produce a general risk assessment to identify high risk areas, such as:
    • places which are frequently in the shade and/or wet
    • building entrances
    • car parks
    • areas with inclines
  • Consider pedestrian areas as well as employee-only areas
  • Put a long-term system in place after assessing the risk
  • Monitor temperature & be ready to take action well in advance
  • Keep up-to-date by visiting the Met Office or the Highways Agency websites for weather warnings
  • Keep a supply of grit and snow clearing tools in the workplace at all times
  • Make someone responsible for monitoring all of the above - and actioning the following checklist if hazards are expected in your area...

Things To Do As Soon As You Anticipate Snow Or Ice Are Heading Your Way

  • Grit your identified high risk areas early in the evenings and mornings; well before the majority of your staff (or customers) are due to arrive
  • Make sure employees who carry out the gritting are safely equipped for the task
  • Put up warning signs
  • Cover walkways
  • Divert people to the safest possible routes
  • Clear a safe pathway to your work’s entrance
  • Clear the car park of snow and ice
  • Clear external steps
  • Don’t forget indoor spaces where outside risks could transfer to the inside
  • Record your procedures & fully document any unfortunate accidents

Here’s wishing a very safe winter for you, your employees and any visitors to your workplace!