Many sectors will continue to operate throughout the festive break so health and safety must remain a priority
For many, Christmas and New Year means a well-earned break and time off, but those employed in retail, healthcare and other sectors will continue to work through this period in potentially cold, wet or snowy weather.
Serious injury solicitor, Kam Singh, offers some of his top tips for employers to keep their workers safe during the winter period.
Maintain an appropriate temperature
Parts of the UK have seen temperatures drop below freezing recently so employers need to be aware of workplace conditions to ensure that their staff aren’t put at risk of getting ill.
The law states that employers should ensure a “reasonable” temperature for staff to work in, but guidance in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 suggests that this should be no lower than 16 degrees Celsius. If a job involves rigorous physical effort this is advised to drop to 13 degrees Celsius.
In addition, employers should bear in mind that some uniforms aren’t suitable all year round. Providing employees – especially those who work outdoors - with warm and insulated clothing such as fleeces, long sleeved shirts, hats and gloves will not only help keep workers warm and comfortable but should increase productivity.
Keep entrances and exits clear
Gritting entrances and exits doesn’t take a lot of effort or money on an employer’s behalf, but unfortunately not all do this and as a result it can cause employees to suffer injury. Roy Gardiner, a Thompsons’ client, knows this all too well after slipping on ice at work and being left with a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder.
As well as gritting pavements when it’s cold, employers should also make sure that any wet or decaying leaves are regularly cleared away, and pathways should be well-lit to limit the risk of accidents on darker days.
With people taking annual leave at this time of year, the Christmas period can see some employees working alone.
The risk with this is that should an individual suffer an accident when at work they may not be able to help themselves or receive help for a longer period of time. And if the accident is serious, this could be potentially life-threatening.
Ideally there should always be more than one member of staff present, including a first-aider, to treat any injuries that may occur. If that is not possible, then systems should be put in place to make sure that the employee can get in touch with someone at a moment’s notice, enabling them to report what’s happened and get the care they need.
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