With the shortest day of the year almost upon us, employees are more likely to spend at least part of their working day in the dark. Employers have a duty to ensure that employees who are out in the late afternoon, evening and at night are safe wherever they may be.
Putting a few clear and effective systems in place to support health and safety efforts after dark is the easiest way to showcase a duty of care to staff. The majority of these policies are simple and cost-effective.
High-visibility and reflective clothing will reduce the risks of accidents and ensure that workers can be seen during dusk and into the night. Brighter workwear will also make it easier to locate employees, especially in hazardous conditions during the winter months. This PPE is worn by workers in the construction industry, highways and logistics industries as standard risk control measure, however, employers in any industry may wish to consider a more general provision for any staff to use when accessing car parks or refuse areas within their premises during the darker afternoons.
Navigating workplace premises is more hazardous after dark. Providing small appliances such as torches will allow employees to complete work tasks and travel freely in poorly lit areas through the premises, particularly when leaving a work stations as the last one out will be turning off lights as they go. It takes a little while for the eyes to adjust to the darkness, thus increasing the risk of bumps and trips.
Employees such as postal workers and patrol guards or staff conducting banking duties often work alone, so it is vital that they have a personal alarm or other device that enables them to raise a signal or make a noise if they are in danger or want to scare off attackers. This will not only improve health and safety but also give staff peace of mind when working during dark nights.
Using hi-tech smartphones and connected devices after dark can attract thieves and other malicious third parties. It is important to pack brightly lit devices away in a backpack or case. Or when using them, stay alert.
Darker environments require employees to be more vigilant about risks and dangers. Staying alert at all times, whether commuting home or completing basic work tasks, is crucial. Changing direction is always a good idea when there is a possibility of encountering a suspect group of people or a dark alley.
Routines and patterns make it easy for outsiders to anticipate movements on any given day, so try to mix up working hours, leaving a little earlier or later reduces habitual routines and patterns and makes targeting more difficult.
By considering such simple measures employers are able to demonstrate risk consideration and mitigation as required in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and workers will continue to be feel safe at work during darker hours of the day.