Duty of care during the winter

Duty of care during the winter

Health and safety professionals are aware that slips, trips and falls count for over half of workplace injuries and, in the treacherous conditions of a harsh winter, while the temperatures plummet, the risk soars.
If a fall on ice or snow occurs, can your organisation rest assured that it has done everything possible to meet its duty of care?
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states that: ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees’. Part of that requirement involves providing a healthy and safe working environment but, during winter months when frost, snow and ice appear on and around business premises, sites, and properties, often at very short notice, this presents an added challenge.
But what constitutes a reasonable effort for protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of all employees, visitors, members of the public, and contractors who visit your organisation? Get it wrong, and the results can be disastrous. ‘Getting it right’ can avoid lengthy litigation cases, damage to reputation and huge financial loss.
Creating a completely risk free workplace is almost impossible. However, a comprehensive winter risk policy, robust management system, and good risk assessment processes are key safety measures.
Tips for effectively managing winter risk are:
• Incorporate a winter risk policy into the health and safety policy through a recognised health and safety management system such as OHSAS 18001
• Maintain records showing the plan has been delivered and keep them for a minimum of three years
• Document your proactive winter management plan and service activity, fully investigate accidents, and record all details
• Ensure your plan is based on real time accurate weather data and agree action triggers for service
• Carry out detailed bespoke site surveys and specifications with identified hazardous areas and specific gritting instructions
• Ensure you have adequate resources – a dedicated, trained team, sufficient salt supplies, safety checked gritting equipment and vehicles
• Regularly review your policies and plans
• Share winter risk plans with your insurer
C&C Consulting can assist in putting together your plan.

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