Planning for Adverse Weather
As winter approaches, we look at the actions an employer can take to plan for weather-related incidents.
From December through to February employees and employers can generally expect that adverse weather conditions will disrupt the business to varying degrees. Cold weather conditions can potentially cause higher levels of incidents at work through slip, trip and falls and higher levels of ill health through flu and colds. Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment and do all that is reasonably practicable to avoid any danger and prevent incidents or injury.
There are a number of actions that can be taken by both employee and employer to eliminate and control this increase in incidents. There is often little time to respond to adverse weather conditions and planning is important to ensure management of any issues that arise.
Recommendations for the Employer
The following are good practice controls that an employer can put in place to prevent harm to employees or others:
- Preparation is key. This can be achieved by conducting a risk assessment detailing vulnerabilities in association with the business continuity plan which has arrangements for dealing with unexpected business interruption. The risk assessment developed for those working outside will be completely different to those working within an office environment
- The risk of falling from height due to slippery conditions or reduced visibility in construction and manufacturing increases significantly in cold weather. In addition, the impact of vibration on the body is increased when a person is colder
- Reassess the use of protective clothing (PPE) where persons are working outside in inclement conditions and decide whether warmer protective clothing is required to ensure that personnel remain warm
- Suitable and sufficient welfare facilities are required for employees to dry their work clothing when not in use. The provision of hot drinks will help to provide warmth. In all work environments consider additional temporary heating where appropriate
- Further problems caused by weather conditions such as travelling to and from work need to be assessed. Where you have employees who drive as part of their duties then carry out a risk assessment for the health and safety risks of driving in adverse weather conditions
- In extreme weather conditions consider allowing workers to work from home. Provide information to employees on the importance of travelling with an emergency supply of items in their cars such as warm thermal clothing, hydrating drinks and snacks in case they are stuck in poor weather conditions whilst travelling
- To prevent an increase in infection from illnesses such as colds and flu, advise employees not to work if they are ill and provide information on hand washing
Recommendation for the Employee
The following is good practice guidance that an employee needs to taken to minimise their exposure to risk from adverse weather conditions:
- Keep warm and hydrated
- Wear appropriate warm clothing for the weather
- Keep emergency essentials on you such as warm thermal clothing, hydrating drinks, snacks when travelling by tube, bus or train in case the transport is disrupted mid journey and you have to walk or stand in the cold to complete a journey
- As a driver keep up to date reports on expected weather conditions from the Met Office, the Highways Agency and other statutory bodies such as local or County Councils
- When travelling by care, keep emergency essentials with you such as warm thermal clothing, blankets, hydrating drinks torches, a charged mobile phone and a method of charging a phone
- Have emergency numbers for different emergency services
Doyle Clayton can provide support with the identification of the business vulnerabilities for business continuity plans and the development of risk assessments for adverse weather conditions. For further information contact Sally Beck.
Further detailed information can be found on the HSE website.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.