With the nights getting darker and the mornings getting mistier, we all have no choice but to accept that winter is finally setting in – and if early 2015 winter weather forecasts from the Met Office are to be believed, we’re in for a rough ride this year.
As a business, you have legal obligations to ensure that your staff are provided with a safe and comfortable working environment all year-round, which includes taking certain precautions against adverse weather conditions. As explained by the Health and Safety Executive, some of the things you need to consider in getting your business ready for winter are:
- Providing sufficient lighting in and around your workplace (including routes into the building) for your employees to see properly, and avoiding hazards that may be on the ground, such as wet leaves or ice
- Regularly and thoroughly clearing leaves, snow and ice from pathways and roads that your employees use
- Using slip-resistant materials for exterior pathways and flooring around entrances to your business, or providing absorbent mats to prevent slips
- Monitoring weather forecasts for frost, ice and snow, and taking precautions (such as gritting) to prevent an icy surface forming on pathways and roads around your business
- Ensuring that the temperature in workrooms is always ‘reasonable’ for your employees – UK law does not dictate a minimum or maximum temperature but the suggested minimum is 16 degrees Celsius
- Issuing your employees with sufficient PPE to keep them safe, warm, and visible during adverse winter weather conditions, and reviewing working procedures to ensure they will not impact your employees’ health
You can find all of the information you need about your obligations as an employer on the Health and Safety Executive website.
The essential products you need this winter
Planning and preparing for adverse winter weather conditions is essential for businesses as when employees are kept safe and happy, the business itself can continue to operate too. As we can safely predict that the British weather will be typically unpredictable, it’s a wise idea to stock your janitorial cupboard with winter cleaning products from Bunzl CHS, so that your business can quickly and efficiently deal with weather conditions.
Clearing snow and preventing ice
A sturdy yard brush and snow shovel to help you clear pathways of snow and fallen leaves for your employees are both essential, then of course you’ll need to grit the pathways as early as possible to prevent ice from forming.
For this you can use our Winter Grip Rapid Ice Melt or Rock Salt, which quickly melt snow and ice and prevents pathways and roads from re-freezing – and don’t forget your push-along salt spreader from EarthWay to easily and evenly distribute your dry Rock Salt on any surface.
Staying safe inside your business
When it’s raining or snowing, it’s crucial that you take precautions against your employees slipping on wet floors around the entrances to your building. If you don’t have non-slip flooring already installed, our Floorline Entrance Mat will help to absorb water and prevent hazardous wet floors.
However, when the pathways and roads around your business have been gritted, you may also begin to notice unsightly salt residue stains on your hard floors. You can tackle these quickly and easily by using InnuScience Nu-Biocal Calcium Remover and Cleaner to remove salt deposits – with help from the power of biotechnology! If your carpets have become stained, our Vax Portable Spot Washer and Shampoo will help you take care of it.
Keeping employees safe when working outside
If you have employees that are required to work outside, you are responsible for ensuring they have the PPE they need to keep safe, which includes ensuring they are visible in extreme weather. In our winter products range you’ll find a great selection of high visibility clothing essentials, including Hi-Vis waistcoats and Hi-Vis jackets that are ideal for road safety.
We also have a choice of de-icing aerosols and screen wash so your employees can efficiently clear their own vehicle and company vehicle windscreens, and also remove windscreen wipers that have been frozen to the windscreen which can cause severe damage if not addressed before they are turned on!
Do you believe your business is ready for winter this year, and what precautions have you put into place to keep your employees safe? Are there any key things that you believe many employers fail to do during the winter months? We’d love to hear from you – leave us a comment below.