Working outdoors comes with a variety of risks and these are further increased when winter sets in, bringing with it hazards such as ice, cold temperatures and darker days. Many jobs require outdoor work, whatever the season or weather, and some roles carry more risk than others.
External environmental risks are often out of an employers’ control but there are steps that can be taken to mitigate such hazards. Risk assessments should always be carried out to identify both internal and external factors and employees should be made aware of the potential risks.
Here we will take a look at some of the risks of working outdoors in the winter as well as ways to keep employers safe.
Plummeting temperatures may mean having to work in extremely cold conditions. Employers have a duty of care to their employees and should make sure they provide adequate clothing for the temperature and the task.
Risk of slipping
The risk of suffering a slip, trip or fall increases if there are icy, snowy or wet conditions, particularly if there’s also poor visibility. Footwear should be appropriate for the conditions and walkways should be cleared of snow.
Signage can alert workers to slippery surfaces in areas such as car parks and paths to ensure extra care is taken.
Travelling in winter
Driving in bad weather poses its own set of risks and employees who travel as part of their job should be made aware of the hazards. Allowing more time for journeys and making sure all vehicles are thoroughly checked before being driven will help mitigate the risks.
It’s a good idea to provide a winter kit in any vehicle in case of a breakdown or getting stuck in the snow. Being aware of any weather warnings can also help employers plan ahead.
Working in the dark
Some jobs require workers to carry out their roles outside daylight hours. This is especially true in winter when the days are shorter. Highway engineers, refuse collectors and postal workers are just a few examples of those who work in low visibility conditions in the winter.
Employers should make sure warm, hi-vis clothing is provided. On site environments, and especially when working with machinery, suitable outdoor lighting should be installed for the safety of the workers. Read more: hammer drill chisel
Although working in dark, cold or adverse environments cannot always be prevented, following these steps will decrease the risks associated with outdoor winter working and help keep employees safe.