As temperatures start to drop in the UK, the arrival of winter – with its shorter daylight hours, dark nights and cold weather – presents a unique set of safety and workwear challenges. This is particularly true for industrial workers or employees in outdoor roles such as transport or telecoms engineering. Reduced visibility coupled with cold, wet or icy conditions can pose significant risks to your employees’ safety and greatly impact the work being carried out.
Making sure employees stay visible and protected at work should be a top priority for businesses, and, in fact, this is a matter of legal compliance. So, as well as supplying the necessary winter workwear to safeguard your greatest asset – your workforce – it’s also crucial that employers consider associated workplace health and safety measures for the winter months. Want to know more?... Allow us to enlighten you, in more ways than one…
Winter working conditions – what are the risks
In the winter months where conditions are more hazardous, there is a higher degree of risk to employees’ safety, especially if they are working outdoors, at night, or in low temperatures. These risks include:
Slips, trips and falls – wet, icy, slippery ground and increased debris from trees affect the quality of walkways
Low lighting levels – making it difficult to see or be seen by others
Unsafe working temperatures – whilst there is no legal minimum working temperature, the HSE Temperature in the workplace code of practice recommends a minimum indoor temperature of 13-16 °c
Hazardous driving conditions – adverse weather conditions affect roads and vehicles
Transmission control for infectious illnesses such as COVID-19, flu and colds – the prevalence of viruses increases in winter months.
Whilst accidents, injuries and illnesses associated with these risks cannot be entirely prevented, there is a lot that businesses can and must do to mitigate them.
Health and safety in the workplace – what you should do:
Making sure that staff are given the right protective equipment and workwear to carry out their job safely during cold, winter conditions is an essential aspect of health and safety law, which all employees must adhere to. However, simply providing adequate gear is not sufficient. There are several other essential associated measures to ensure staff are protected. These are:
Risk Assessment – Conduct thorough risk assessments to identify the potential hazards that winter conditions may exacerbate. This includes assessing the visibility and the risks associated with reduced daylight hours, as well as cold weather conditions, especially in the context of the work environment.
Educate Employees – Educate employees on the importance of wearing high-visibility clothing and other protective gear. This education should also extend to understanding the signs of cold stress and hypothermia.
Best practices for gearing up in the winter
Having established the risks and measures businesses and organisations need to consider around keeping workers visible and protected during cold and low-light conditions, let’s explore what garments may be required in terms of protective workwear to enable staff to work safely and comfortably through the winter months …
High-visibility clothing – High-visibility clothing is paramount to ensuring that individuals are easily visible, even in low light conditions. Specially designed garments with high-visibility features, such as Bright Gear supplied by phs Besafe, ensure you remain conspicuous amidst the darkness of winter. The Bright Gear range encompasses a variety of garments including jackets, trousers, coveralls, and polo shirts, each tailored to maximize visibility while ensuring comfort and durability amidst the most demanding outdoor working conditions.
Layering – Layering is essential to stay warm during cold conditions. Begin with moisture-wicking base layers to keep sweat at bay, add insulating layers to retain heat, and top it off with waterproof or wind-resistant outer layers to shield against the elements.
Waterproof gear – Wet conditions are common during winter. Waterproof or water-resistant gear is vital to stay dry, which in turn, helps in maintaining body heat. Foul Gear garments supplied by phs Besafe are made of durable yet breathable waterproof GORE-TEX.
Head and hand protection – A significant amount of body heat is lost through the head and hands. Wearing insulated hats, gloves, and using hand warmers can help in retaining body heat.
Selecting the best workwear
Selecting the right workwear is pivotal to ensuring both visibility and protection. Regardless of the garments supplied, the key points to remembers are:
Visibility – Opt for clothing that provides maximum visibility from top to toe.
Comfort and Flexibility – Workwear should be comfortable and provide enough flexibility to move around and perform duties required without restriction.
Durability – Durable workwear that can withstand the harsh winter conditions is a worthy investment. It's prudent to select workwear that is designed to endure the demanding outdoor working conditions.
In conclusion, navigating the challenges of winter requires a proactive approach in selecting the right workwear and adhering to health and safety policies and procedures in the workplace. phs Besafe provides high quality gear that exemplify a blend of visibility, comfort, and protection, ensuring that individuals are well-equipped to face the harsh conditions while remaining visible. The bright side of winter is, after all, a scenario where safety and visibility are prioritized, ensuring a safe and productive work environment even in the face of adversity.
To learn more about how we can help keep your workforce visible and protected throughout the cold conditions of winter, get in touch now.