Steve Ashworth

Are you doing enough to manage health and safety during the cold weather?

Stephen Ashworth - Health and Safety Services Manager

16 February 2015

Cold weather can cause health and safety issues on site, below are ten key points to be aware of:

Access and pedestrian routes

  • As sites get muddier and possibly icy make sure roads and pedestrian routes are kept as clear as possible to reduce the risk of slips occurring and mud being transferred to the public highway.
  • It goes without saying that snow and ice are slippery. Scaffold platforms and access routes should be cleared and gritted before use.
  • Snow lying on the ground hides trip hazards and holes. Keep your pedestrian routes clear and make sure people use them.

Adequate lighting

  • During the winter when days are shorter make sure the lighting of areas such as stairwells is sufficient.
  • If you are operating mobile plant on site make sure headlights are functioning and flashing bacons are being used. It is especially important that everyone on site is wearing the correct hi-visibility clothing.

Suitable PPE

  • Hi-visibility clothing that is covered in mud is no longer hi-visibility! Either replace dirty items of have them washed (but read the label as most hi-vis clothing can only be washed a certain number of times before they must be replaced).
  • On cold wet days it is important to ensure anyone working outside has good protective clothing. Warm weather gear and waterproofs are classed as personal protective equipment so must be provided and maintained by the employer.
  • Cold hands make handling materials and equipment difficult and heighten the risk of conditions such as hand arm vibration syndrome. Make sure workers have suitable gloves to wear.

Welfare and occupational health

  • If workers are getting cold and wet they need somewhere warm and dry to take their breaks and to dry wet clothes. Ensure heaters are working and checked regularly.
  • Low temperatures and wind chill can cause hypothermia and reduce dexterity and alertness. Site Managers should be aware of and manage this risk. Make sure there are adequate facilities to prepare warm drinks and to shelter from the weather.
Cold weather can cause health and safety issues on site