Hurricanes. Heavy rainfall. Heat waves. Lives are affected on a daily basis by extreme weather conditions. Globally, we’re facing trying times. Specifically in the UK, temperatures are going to start dropping as we move through Autumn and it’s not certain what the coming months will bring. What does the uncertainty of the weather have to do with employers, employees and work safety?
The HSE states, “As an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.” Even though employers can’t control the weather, it’s their responsibility to educate their employees as to what risks could arise depending on what the weather is like. “A risk assessment should be conducted to determine the risk management controls required for all eventualities”. After a risk assessment has been carried out, an emergency response plan needs to be created. What is involved in this process?
Developing an emergency response plan
Your emergency response plan should include the following details according to the HSE:
- The resources required, e.g. materials and equipment available to deal with localised flooding, clearing or gritting of external surfaces as appropriate.
- The Preventative Maintenance plan to protect the building e.g. heating, frozen pipes, branches of trees and the structural integrity of the building.
- A policy of getting to work and the management of work activities if severe weather conditions arise e.g. causing road closures due to flooding etc.
- Procedures for ensuring the safe access and egress to the workplace, e.g. who is going to raise the alert when icy conditions or flooding arises? When are surfaces going to be gritted? Who is going to carry out the gritting or placing of sandbags? Who is responsible for ensuring adequate supply of grit and sandbags?
- Identify clear roles and responsibilities to cope with such situations e.g. management responsibility at regional and local level. In buildings where there is no designated service owner the most senior person(s) on duty should assume responsibility for ensuring appropriate arrangements.
Tips for managers and employers:
- Manage the adverse weather plan by making sure that clear direction is given to employees. Ensure that key personnel and local management are on the same page.
- Employees, visitors, and the general public should be aware of the hazards and risks associated with adverse weather conditions. Provide information on precautions that staff can take during a period of bad weather, for example, driving tips.
- Take a proactive approach to implementing control measures. Assess the risks in each area. Priority should be given to high risk areas that have been identified. This would involve securing openings where water could enter as well as gritting or clearing all pedestrian routes (footpaths, walkways, entrance and exits). Other areas can and should be prioritised thereafter.
- Documentation and records should be kept with appropriate information, such as time and date of gritting exercises, and who completed them.
- Ensure all incidents and accidents are recorded in accordance with local procedures.
Get The Health and Safety Advice You Need
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Taking care of the health and safety of your employees is not for the faint hearted. If you think you could use some help in preparing your organisation for the challenges that might arise in the next few months, don’t hesitate to contact us.