How to Maintain Good Working Conditions in Winter – The winter months are at last behind us, with longer and later days soon giving way to the fresh warmth of spring. But winter remains a concern for employers in a variety of industries, particularly with regard to preparations for health and safety. Seasonal businesses and project-led enterprises need to be ready to meet the challenges presented by all seasons, including the coldest; this means ensuring that working conditions remain safe for staff.
With winter some time away, this leaves employers or new businesses time to plan ahead for the colder months. What does planning for winter weather look like, from a workplace health and safety perspective?
How to Maintain Good Working Conditions in Winter
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is a year-round concern for any employer or job-site. However, as discussed above, the winter poses new and unique dangers to those working in its conditions – some of which require different PPE approaches in order to ensure worker safety.
As an example, some worker’s gloves might not be sufficiently insulated to protect from cold and limb stiffness. As such, thicker insulated gloves should be provided to workers working outside. Likewise, hi-vis coats should be provided instead of vests where inclement weather is a possibility. Safety boots should also be provided, where ice and standing water increase the possibility of slipping and falling.
Plan Work for the Weather
In more hands-on industries, weather can have a direct and meaningful impact on progress in a number of ways. One such way is the effect of different environmental and atmospheric conditions on curing processes, for example the setting of concrete and plaster. This might not be an issue where projects are planned to account for delays, but cold and still-wet materials could pose their own health and safety risk to work sites.
With this in mind, you might save such curing work for warmer weeks, and keep your staff working in warmer and safer conditions. Plasterboard being a finished product that does not require curing, you might task workers with putting up plasterboard sheets instead of engaging in wet plastering.
Provide Safe Zones
Having workers conduct as much indoor work as possible is wise for colder conditions, but outdoor work is not necessarily elective. Where working outdoors is unavoidable, provisions should be made to allow workers easy access to warm and sheltered spaces.
A break room might be created in a nearby building, or a temporary building erected near to the work site. These spaces should be well heated, and also provide amenities for hot food and drink – even if only a kettle and microwave. This way, workers can warm themselves well after prolonged exposure to colder temperatures. Workers should be allowed to access these spaces whenever they need to, as opposed to in accordance with legal minimum break allowances.