Managing workplace health and safety during winter

Managing workplace health and safety during winter Midlands Health and Safety Consultancy

Making sure your business is a safe place for people to work, shop, or visit is essential. Whether you’re a public-facing high-street retailer, a factory with a growing workforce or your clients are visiting your offices in an industrial estate, there are many hazards you should be looking out for.

Health and safety considerations in your business may change from season to season and whilst your business should be aware of hazards all year round, there can be more during winter. Our latest article looks at managing workplace health and safety during the winter months to enable a safe place for all.

What can you do to manage these risks?

Whilst you are not expected to eliminate all risk, you do have a legal responsibility to do everything “reasonably practical” to protect people from harm and this does include hazards due to wintery weather.  Your responsibility extends beyond your workforce to cover all workers, contractors and members of the public who enter your premises. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, carrying out Risk Assessments is a legal requirement.

Cold weather

Low temperatures can pose a genuine and serious health and safety risk, particularly if any employees are working outdoors. Cold weather has been proven to weaken our immune systems, killing cells in the nose that fight against disease, and can exacerbate physical injuries, as well as causing more serious illnesses. Beyond this, cold temperatures also impact on people’s ability to work, making it a matter of economic imperative as well as a safety issue.

The cold weather also brings with it ice and snow, which carry a whole range of risks. Ice in particular can be a major slip hazard on paths and other paved areas in and around a facility, while snow can obscure and worsen this risk. Cold temperatures should be addressed through proper climate control, as well as warm clothing for outdoor work. Paths and car parks meanwhile should be cleared and gritted regularly before people arrive to prevent slip and trip hazards.

Make sure your workplace is well lit

The days are shorter and for most businesses, employees will be arriving and leaving the workplace in the dark. Make sure internal and external lighting is fully operational, and check with your staff to ensure all areas have been assessed.

Review your lone working procedures

For the same reasons as before it is important to look after your staff when lone working or working remotely, especially during cold weather. Review your policies, make the procedures in place are robust and communicate this message to your staff.

Identify hazards inside your business

These can mainly be the result of darker days and colder temperatures. Places where hazards could happen include:

  • Entrance areas of your business
  • Dark warehouses
  • Unlit corridors or stairwells
  • Parking areas for deliveries or distribution


Provide suitable protective workwear

For businesses that offer construction and industrial services, it’s essential to provide your employees with the appropriate protective workwear and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent illness and injury at work. For example, high visibility workwear should be provided to any members of staff working in areas with low or no light, and it should be comfortable and warm, and be able to protect them from the elements by being warm and waterproof. Not only that, but it also needs to be legally compliant.

For further information and advice on managing workplace health and safety during winter, please contact us here.


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