Winter is a time full of many different hazards.
It has been proven, time and again, that the festive season can be a dangerous time of year –
with decorations, drinking and darkness proving potentially fatal for the unprepared.
Therefore, we here at Base Solutions have compiled this ‘Elf and Safety’ – Winter Hazards Guide to keep you on the good list!
Winter Health and Safety Issues
Burnout amongst staff members: Extended hours of darkness, cold weather, personal difficulties, and Blue Monday around the corner all adds up to the potential for creating burnout amongst members of staff.
Driving in wintry conditions: With the potential for ice and snow on the roads, as well as reduced visibility, those commuting or driving for work are put at an increased this time of year. Moreover, breakdowns and collisions are amplified in wintry conditions – waiting for recovery is far less comfortable in cold weather!
The RAC has a very helpful winter driving guide, found here
Seasonal illness: The return of winter also marks the return of cold and flu season. Add to that the continuance of COVID 19, as well as a struggling NHS, creates a serious problem for illness to keep on top of.
Slips, trips and falls: Much like driving in poor weather conditions; walking to work in the winter can prove more dangerous than at other times of the year, with ice and snow to watch out for. Additionally, whilst decorating a workplace for Christmas is a fun way to bring some colour to a dark time of year, it is important to ensure that decorations do not compromise employee safety.
Increased alcohol consumption: Whilst prevention is better than cure, it is inevitable that some employees may embrace the ‘Christmas Spirit’ a bit too much (outside of work hours, of course!). Hungover, tired, and potentially still intoxicated members of staff is a concern and businesses should reiterate workplace alcohol policies as a minimum.
Ways to Mitigate Risk
To help employees fighting winter burnout, make sure that all staff are aware of your mental health support policies, and take the time to speak to your workforce.
Do not drink drive – it’s the law, and at this time of year drivers need to be as focused as possible on the road and their surroundings.
Remind those who drive to keep warm clothes, emergency first aid kits and other essentials in their car, so that in the event of an incident or breakdown, they can stay comfortable.
Keep wrapped up warm, ensure that the workplace is heated to a minimum of 16 degrees centigrade and follow government guidance on COVID 19 mitigation as well as seasonal illnesses.
Ask those who walk into work to wear suitable footwear, changing into different footwear at work if they would like, and be cautious of ice and poor weather conditions.
Ensure that Christmas decorations don’t block pathways or interfere with emergency exits and decorations are securely put up. If decorations are on a large scale, it may be necessary to include them in relevant risk assessments.
Reiterate workplace alcohol policies to all employees and remind them the times taken for alcohol to leave the bloodstream!
We hope that this document proves useful in staying aware of the risks around Christmas. If you, or your staff, need workplace health and safety training or consultancy, please get in touch.
Happy Holidays 🎄