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Out in the cold: A winter warning to employers!

Winter is well and truly upon us, and the colder weather brings with it a whole raft of additional health and safety considerations for employers.

Will your staff be able to make it to work in the event of snow, ice, high winds or other extreme weather? Will they be warm enough once they arrive? If your employees work outside, will they have the correct clothing and equipment?

The questions can seem daunting and endless. The good news is that keeping your staff safe and your business compliant this winter isn’t rocket science. Here are our top three tips:

Be temperature-aware

While there is no legal minimum, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that the temperature in workplaces should normally be at least 16°C or 13°C if the work involves rigorous physical effort. Use this thermal comfort checklist to establish whether your employees may be at risk of what the HSE calls “thermal discomfort”. If your staff work outdoors, for example on a construction site, it’s essential that you provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Prepare for the white stuff!

As an employer you have a legal duty under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 to minimise the risks to your staff from snow and ice. You aren’t expected to clear every pathway and possible entrance to your premises – it’s simply a case of being sensible and adopting a common-sense approach. It is, however, a good idea to have a supply of rock salt at or near your workplace before the snow starts to fall.

Get creative

As is often the case in business, it pays to think outside the box when it comes to keeping your staff warm. Aside from the usual methods such as using portable heaters, why not consider introducing slightly different working patterns to avoid very early mornings and late nights during cold snaps? Free tea and coffee for staff always goes down well too! On a more functional level, be mindful of draughts and be sure to use your heating efficiently by maintaining a steady temperature rather than using short blasts of heat.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Are you a business owner? Do you have any advice for other employers on keeping staff safe and warm during the winter? Leave a comment below or get in touch with us via social media.

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