British Firms Advised to Check Health and Safety Measures in Winter

British Firms Advised to Check Health and Safety Measures in Winter

10th December 2020

As the British winter draws ever closer, it is time for companies that work outdoors to look at the changes that they may need to make to their health & safety measures to deal with this time of year. The construction industry is one of the sectors most affected by bad weather, so what are the issues to take into account just now?

The Risk of Bad Weather

Of course, bad weather can hit the UK at any time of the year, but it is more likely that snowfall and plunging temperatures cause major problems in the winter season. In the construction industry, frost and icy conditions can be potential hazards, especially when working at height or with heavy objects and machinery.

Adverse weather can cause construction projects to be delayed, which is a costly measure but may be necessary when there is no way to get a safe working environment. If it is possible to clear away all snow and ice from the working area then this should be done as soon as possible, to allow work to continue.

After a heavy storm, there should checks carried out to make sure that no power lines or trees have been brought down in or around the site. Salt or sand can be used to clear snow and icy areas, while any zone that can’t be cleared in this way should be clearly marked so that everyone is able to avoid it.

Use of Warm Clothing

With temperatures set to drop to below zero on some days during the winter, it is vital that construction workers wear warm clothing at all times. The wind and humidity need to be taken into account too, as the risk of illness increases in wet, blustery conditions.

Naturally, workers need to wear clothes that let them move around freely and carry out their normal activities. They also need to continue using safety gear as normal, no matter how cold it gets. For example, winter gloves need to allow them to hold objects securely and hard hats are needed for protection when using a step unit or ladder.

Gloves are especially important when touching cold, metal objects. Frostbite can cause damage almost immediately when someone touches an extremely cold metal surface without gloves.

Adapting to Covid Restrictions

The construction industry is one area of the economy that has been able to carry on as usual during the recent lockdown periods. By now, most workers should be comfortable with the new way of working.  

However, the arrival of bitterly cold weather could tempt some people to relax the rules slightly, For example, one of the commonly used ways of keeping employees warm is by giving them a warm break in a heated area.

This remains a good idea, but it has to be carried out in a sensible manner that respects the current social distancing rules. The time isn’t right for people gather around a heater, but a way should be found to give them warm, safe breaks when needed.