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Working in colder weather

I am writing this blog in the week that the weather has really changed and its darker and much colder.

We have had an amazing summer in 2022 but wow we are really getting the cold now.

The changing seasons can bring a whole host of hazards that are sometimes hard to determine and work around. Cold conditions, rain, dark nights, low temperatures, snow, ice, high winds can all lead to site shutdowns and delays which is why proper workplace safety monitoring is crucial.

It’s always best to get your team together and go through some updated procedures and changes.

By making suitable considerations and completing proactive checks, this will allow you to expose any risks and hazards to help keep staff safe and keep your work areas a happy place!

Specific industries affected by adverse weather.

  • Construction
  • Roofers and scaffolders
  • Groundworkers and landscapers
  • Gardeners
  • Facilities management
  • Maintenance teams
  • Roadside workers / Civil engineers

What do I need to remember when working?

  • High winds lead to damage and deterioration of objects in the surrounding area, including buildings, trees, plants, vehicles etc. Once airborne, these objects present a high risk to health from individuals or plant etc. being struck, causing further harm. Be vigilant and proactive: if you spot anything that might come loose or cause harm, stop work and report it.
  • Plan work around changing weather conditions. Should weather reports issue an amber or red warning, consider your work activities or stopping work altogether.
  • Monitor the changing situation and make an informed decision to stop work if you feel that conditions are dangerous.
  • Colder temperatures can be a real risk to health. Make sure everyone has adequate warm clothing (PPE) and access to hot drinks and suitable welfare facilities when they need them.
  • Changing weather can mean changing surface conditions. Regular monitoring alongside risk assessment will help prevent the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Being aware of changing traffic conditions and acting accordingly can assist with get everyone home safely. Carry out more regular site audits to stop any potential issues.
  • Many people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the cold winter months to try to ensure regular breaks and communication is so very important. Keep checking in with work friends.
  • Stop crane operation and working at height work in high winds.
  • Adverse weather can affect and damage scaffolding or temporary structures on your site if they’re not properly inspected before, immediately after, and every seven days from the first inspection as a minimum.
  • Road conditions can be poor and result in added traffic or vehicles becoming temporarily stranded. Make sure checks on the vehicles are completed before leaving and on a regular basis, including making sure you have adequate provisions onboard in case anyone gets stuck.
  • Don’t wait for things to happen or get better. If conditions are too wet, cold, or indeed dangerous, STOP before something happens.
  • The minimum workplace (indoor) temperature should be at least 16˚C.
  • Risk assessments, method statements, and particularly safe working procedures should consider changing workplace temperatures.
  • Introduce a system for more breaks to keep warm, hydrate with hot drinks, and rest potentially more strained muscles.
  • Consider your own personal safety as well as that of others around you.
  • Suitable training on safe ways of working in cold conditions will go a long way.
  • Staff should carry out any workplace monitoring assigned to them by management to always ensure site safety.
  • Make sure to have a suitable provision of PPE, like gloves, fleeces, and coats accessible. These must be worn on site, and you are responsible for your personal safety in regard to keeping warm with the provisions provided.

What management need to do

  • Complete or review risk assessments to consider adverse weather conditions
  • Consider and implement new controls (PPE, training, hot drinks etc.)
  • Make sure all staff know who to call in the event of an emergency or incident, plus some handy reminders to stay safe in cold conditions
  • Create a plan for monitoring changes in workplace conditions
  • Conduct documented checks and inspections, reviewing the results to ensure all measures are suitable.

If you need any further support please do not hesitate to contact joanne@chestnutassociates.co.uk