Its December, and with Christmas just around the corner and the cold, damp winter season in full swing – we look at the Health and Safety issues your workplaces are bound to come across.
The HR and Health and Safety issues regarding winter weather are many! Lucky for you we have a whole blog dedicated to this topic! Take a look at Winter Weather: How To Keep Employees Safe When It Snows.
We’ve included a summary of the main points here:
- Contingencies for potential business closure – There are a variety of options available for employees including remote working and unpaid leave. However, these depend on a variety of factors such as the nature of the industry and lay of clause in handbooks.
- Safe Driving – When employees are driving into work, employers should remind them of some best winter driving practices in order to help them get to work safely.
- Slips, trips and falls – Carrying out a risk assessment will identify where potential dangers lie, and employers should act accordingly, for example snow clearing to avoid potential litigation.
- Managing office temperature – ensure the office does not drop below the minimum office temperature requirement
- Spreading Illness – the cold weather brings plenty of illnesses and unless preventative action is taken where necessary, the spread of illness is more likely.
- PPE for snow – For employees whose role requires them to be on the move, Protective Equipment, such as footwear with snow grips might be necessary to ensure they are safe when walking in the slippery conditions.
Ensuring Your Workplace Is Well-Lit
It’s not just the front of your house and your Christmas tree that needs special lighting. The wintertime, particularly the month of December, see’s less day light per day than any other time of the year. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that premises are well lit. For example, external lighting is essential for workplaces that have outside space, such as warehouses with loading bays.
Employers can assess the quality of external lighting by simply asking their employees opinion or check for yourself whether you think the premises are sufficiently lit.
A poorly lit premise can be extremely dangerous as well as a nuisance for employees. It may prevent them from seeing hazards and can make it more difficult finding and getting into their cars. Furthermore, poorly lit premises will run the risk of attracting unsavoury characters.
Clear Wet and Decaying Leaves
As well as snow and ice, wet and decaying leaves pose a great risk to employees and members of the public. They pose a risk in two ways. First – they can become very slippy and thus pose a slip risk, and secondly – they may hide hazards on the path which may cause one to slip or trip over it. It is an employer’s duty to conduct a risk assessment of the premises to ensure that not wet and decaying leaves are posing a risk.
If possible, employers should attempt to remove the leaves whilst they are dry – this will prevent slippery leaves from sticking to the ground.
Despite reports of Health and Safety scrooges banning workplaces from putting up decorations, this is widely untrue. There is nothing wrong with allowing employees to spice up the office atmosphere and dampen down the usual corporate atmosphere. However, there are potential Health and Safety risks with putting up decorations, and employers should ensure that when decorations are put up, it is done so safety.
Some tips for putting up decorations safely:
- Never stand on rolling chairs or tables when putting decorations up. Ensure you use stepladders to hang decorations, and when doing so, ensure to move the steps closer rather than having to reach over.
- Never use lit candles
- Keep walkways unobstructed from any packaging, boxes or decorations which may become trip hazards.
- Be careful not to place decorative items in front of exits, exit signage or on sprinklers and other fire safety equipment.
Christmas Trees In The Office
There are a variety of Health and Safety issues posed by your office Christmas tree. Although many may seem unlikely – they are still worth being aware of.
If you are displaying a real tree, then you need to ensure it is not dry. You can help to maintain its freshness by keeping the tree hydrated. This is essential because well-watered trees are less of a fire hazard, whereas a dry tree can be ignited very quickly.
Choosing the right location for your tree is also essential. You should ensure the tree stands at least 3 feet away from heat vents, heaters, radiators and fireplaces.
Another crucial tip is to avoid room corners. This is because fires that start in corners get hot quickly and spread faster than fires that start near a flat wall. Furthermore, they should be in a position that poses no risk of blocking the exits of the rooms.
Employers must also be careful about lights on their trees. Defective electrical lights are the biggest cause of Christmas tree fires. Tips for ensuring that your office does not fall victim to a fire caused by LED’s is take simple precautions such as connecting no more than the strands of lights per extension cord. You also need to be cautious with wires are chords off the tree and should be careful not to place them under rugs, across doorways or by heaters.
If you require information on writing a Health and Safety policy or need support with conducting risk assessments, our Health and Safety Consultants are on hand to help. Call us today on 0845 2626 260 to book a free consultation.