BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

Ways to Prepare the Workplace for Winter

Preparing for winter will mean ensuring workplace safety which will improve cold weather working conditions when the cold season is in full swing.

It’ll help you to steer clear of potential disasters and carrying preparations out systematically means it’ll be stress free, too.

Most of us underestimate how cold the UK can get in the depths of winter, and we often neglect the small steps that make winters safer until it is too late. That’s why we’ve created a winter safety checklist you can go through to ensure your business premises are safe this winter.

Business owners have a responsibility to keep their premises clear and safe from hazards such as snow and ice, to protect employees, clients and any other individuals who are likely to access your property. Proper preparations can also minimise the damage that winter weather can cause to buildings and other infrastructure.

How to improve cold weather working conditions and ensure workplace safety

Clear and grit pathways and car parks

This will help avoid slips, falls, and stranded vehicles.

Don’t wait for the snow to start falling to make sure that you have snow and ice removal equipment – prepare by stocking up before the weather strikes. For clearing and gritting pathways, you’ll need:

Rapid ice melt – this will melt ice and snow and stop pathways from freezing over again.

Grit salt bin – to keep grit salt in.

Snow scoop – for shovelling and scraping ice and snow out of the way.

High visibility winter grip gloves – for protecting hands from the cold.

High visibility jacket – for clearing snow in low visibility areas and roads.

Ice grips – for shoes or boots with soles that provide traction.

Alternatively, you could organise for a contractor to remove snow and ice on bad weather days, or if your premises are open 24 hours a day,arrange alternative provisions to remove snow and ice consistently throughoutthe day and night.

Keep interiors dry to avoid slips and falls

Have wet floor signs available to warn individuals of slip hazards, and entrance mats for wiping feet when entering the property. Having more mats and non-slip sheets, in general, is advisable when there’s a high risk of water on the floor, like there is in winter.

Check boiler has been serviced

Boilers tend to break at the peak of winter because of the added stress of lower temperatures. Avoid boiler disasters striking by getting your boiler serviced just before the cold weather arrives, ensuring that it’sin peak condition.

Ensure pipes are insulated

This will reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing, or worse, bursting. Freezing in a pipe creates a lot of pressure and can cause it toburst, in turn leading to water leakage problems in walls or floors which cancause added stress and require urgent attention.

Prepare vehicles for cold weather

Fit vehicles with the right tyres for handling snow, ice and large amounts of water and make sure there are emergency stocks of food and water in cars in case a driver gets stranded.

Have enough de-icer and correct strength screenwash in every vehicle. Running out of screen wash or using summer dilutions can result in a sudden loss of visibility, turning a simple journey into a dangerous situation.

Have a clear cold weather policy in place

Have an emergency plan in place before an emergency. When news sources announce an emergency because of a pending storm, let employees know if the business is going to close promptly to avoid any confusion.

Employees  who can work from home

In worst case scenarios, this reduces the overall risk of employees exposed to hazardous situations on the way to or at work. This might be a first or a last resort depending on the nature of your business and the type of work that is required of your staff.

Take extra care of outdoor workers

Make sure you have the right PPE equipment for outdoor workers such as gloveshigh visibility jackets, and thermal underclothes to ensure that you’re compliant with HSE guidelines on working outdoors in cold environments.

Know the signs of cold-related physical stress

By taking the right precautions, you should avoid any harm coming to employees and you should always prioritise their safety over productivity, sending them home if conditions get too bad. However, you should still be aware of the common signs of states of stress caused by extreme cold. They usually include fatigue, confusion, shivering and slowed breathing.

Preparing for winter by actioning the suggestions on this winter workplace safety list will give you peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can to keep your employees safe, reducing the risk of the cold weather causing an accident in your premises.

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