Winter Safety:

Advice From Bureau Veritas

Dec. 16 2019

With winter fast approaching, experts from the Bureau Veritas HSI (Health, Safety & Inspections) team are busy working with clients to help them prepare for the onset of snow, ice and cold weather.

From slips, trips and falls prevention to driving safety, there are a number of measures any employer can take to help prevent accidents in colder months and reduce the risk of injury or potential litigation.

Here Carol Robinson, health, safety and environment manager for Bureau Veritas, explores some of the simple steps to workplace risk management that can make a difference in winter. 

Slips, trips and falls

It doesn’t take a health and safety manager to recognise that snow and ice on the ground can increase the risk of slips, trips and falls. Where you have a site, make sure it is gritted. If your employees are traveling to other sites, ensure that they are aware of potential hazards and avoid them where possible.

Inside the building, the key is to be more vigilant. Take into account that people will be bringing snow, water and ice into the building on their shoes and potentially coats, so there is a risk that entrance and reception areas in particular will be slippery. Step up your cleaning regime, placing matting down on the floors (but ensure this does not introduce a trip hazard) make sure you have enough signs to identify potential hazards and ask all employees to be more aware when they enter and leave the building.

Even leaves on the ground in autumn can present an increased risk of slipping so make sure you have a process in place to clear them away. Most of this comes down to greater awareness and forward planning; think about what could happen rather than waiting for accidents to happen, and be prepared to make small adjustments to your existing maintenance routine accordingly.

Working in the cold

One of the biggest areas that people tend to overlook when preparing for winter is clothing. For those that work outdoors and require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is suitable, the onus is on employers to make sure that this PPE is suitable. Is it waterproof and is it sufficiently warm for the temperatures in which employees are expected to work?

For indoor working environments, there is guidance from the Health & Safety Executive. Employers should do all they can to provide a reasonable temperature and consider what is needed to make the environment comfortable – this could including hot drinks, regular breaks and adequate workwear, in addition to the obvious climate control which should always be considered first.

Driving safety

Finally, the care and planning that should go into driving must increase in winter. At Bureau Veritas, everybody is asked to complete a ‘Take Two’ risk assessment before they start a journey and we encourage our clients to do the same. 

This includes an element of journey preplanning – check for weather warnings, adjust your route as a result if you can or consider changing your plans if not – and of vehicle checks. I always recommend getting the vehicle serviced in advance of winter, but basic checks are essential, such as tyres, oil and antifreeze, together with a ‘winter pack’ to include spare clothing, blankets, bottles of water and even a flask with a hot drink if you are facing a long journey.

Roads in winter can be more dangerous, so take extra caution and reduce your speed. Do not rely on the competence and safety of other drivers – adjust your own driving style to suit the adverse conditions.

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