Working in Cold Weather

As we continue to cope with a winter of extremes, both in terms of cold temperatures and excessive water and flooding in some areas, it’s important to consider the additional preventative measures that need to be put in place both indoors and out.

During the winter months, working indoors or outside, day or night, can expose employees to below freezing temperatures, as we have seen recently in parts of the UK.  It is important to identify those workers who need more protection and who will be most at risk.

Hands and feet in particular, can become cold and painful, and in extreme cases lead to frostbite.  In addition, a lowering of the body temperature can cause issues with concentration, and tiredness and lead to an increased risk of accidents happening.

Workers suffering from breathing and heart or circulation problems are likely to be more sensitive to cold weather working.  Those working outdoors also have to deal with the wind chill factor and wet conditions, on top of the low temperatures.

The HSE states that the minimum temperature for an indoor workplace is at least 160C or 130c if the majority of work involves rigorous physical effort.

Measures to put in place:

  • Provide adequate heating, including portable heaters
  • Provide enough breaks in warm areas and access to warm drinks
  • Design processes that minimise exposure to cold areas and products
  • Reduce draughts
  • Provide insulating floor coverings or special footwear where necessary
  • Provide adequate protective clothing for cold environments

During the winter months with less daylight hours and often darker days in general, added to the increased wet and cold, surfaces can become hazardous.  Fallen leaves on paths and walkways become wet and slippy, and snow or ice can build up.

Things to consider and check:

  • Ensure you have adequate lighting at entrances and in outdoor areas
  • Remove leaves at regular intervals
  • Use slip-resistant paving on pathways
  • Add canopies over entrances or use absorbent mats or non-slip flooring
  • Keep an eye on weather conditions so as to be prepared in advance
  • Use grit as a preventative measure and cordon off high risk areas

Our team are happy to provide the latest guidelines and support to ensure your facility is risk-free whatever the weather.

Staying in the loop