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Winter Workplace Checklist

 30 Oct 2020

We are now well and truly into autumn, and winter is just around the corner. This time of year brings falling leaves, rain, frost, ice and even snow. All of which pose a risk of causing leaks, slips and injury.

We all have a lot to deal with at the moment, and with many businesses being forced to close again, clearing gutters and ordering grit and salt might be low on your list of priorities, but the last thing you need on top of everything else is dealing with a leak or injury. So now is the time to prepare for inclement weather.

As an employer, you have 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.

If an employee or member of the public hurts themselves because adequate precautions have not been taken against extreme weather, then claims can run into the tens of thousands of pounds.

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.”

Perhaps you want to outsource this particular headache to a facilities management company? If not, here are a few tips to help you keep a safe working environment during bad weather.

Minimising workplace risk from bad weather

Leaks
  • Regularly check your gutters and drainpipes for blockages, especially in autumn as leaves can easily block them, leading to leaks.
  • Inspect your roof and the outside of your building for signs of damage, again to prevent leaks.
  • Insulate pipes and keep the heating on low (especially important now that many places of work will be closed throughout November and December) to avoid water freezing and cracking pipes.
Snow and ice
  • 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...
Steps to take if snow or ice is forecast
  • 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

If you are well prepared and use common sense you should be able to avoid any winter mishaps. If in any doubt, please contact us and we can advise on the best course of action.

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