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28th January 2020

How to ensure your workforce is safe this winter

Winter can present additional challenges for those working at height or in the construction sector generally.  Adverse weather conditions, reduced daylight and poor visibility can all contribute to additional risks in the working environment.  Consequently, at this time of year, it is important to be aware of these risks and to put all appropriate measures in place to ensure your workforce is safe. Click on the image below to access our tool box talk on winter working.

Here are some of the factors to consider.

Training and staffing

Make sure all staff are adequately trained and are working within their ability. Supervision is key and this becomes more important for young, vulnerable and inexperienced workers.

PPE

PPE is obviously important all year round, but different PPE may be required during the colder, darker months. High-vis jackets, hand protection and steel-toe boots are all important items and some sites may specify the wearing of light eye protection, but a risk assessment might identify that this isn’t required during rainy conditions.

Fall protection is of course essential for those involved in scaffolding activity at height, and care should be taken to ensure it remains effective with any additional PPE that is provided.

Inspections

Scaffolding and equipment should be inspected regularly and inspections can be crucial in identifying issues which could leave scaffolding and workers vulnerable in bad weather. Snow and Ice can be particularly problematic and work platforms should be checked prior to use to ensure they don’t pose an intolerable level of risk to the workforce.

Preparation

Weather forecasts aren’t fool proof and we’ve all been caught out when the forecasters have got it wrong, but they certainly give a good overview and can help with general preparation. Pay attention to any weather warnings which are issued and make sure you and your workforce are taking the right precautions for the conditions.

Wind can be particularly problematic and you should ensure the workforce knows the levels at which wind will pose an unacceptable level of risk. Remember – wind at the head office location might not be the same at site, as it can be affected by buildings in the area and the geographical features of the land.

Regular breaks

Breaks are essential and when working outdoors in cold conditions it is important that workers are able to take regular breaks and have the opportunity to use these breaks to get warm and dry. In addition to wearing the right clothing simple things like warm drinks and food can help to keep workers warm in cold conditions.

If you need help with staff training, health and safety consultancy or independent scaffolding inspections then get in touch on 0345 6022 418 or drop us an email hello@simian-risk.com.

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