Winter Working - 5 Things to Consider

Cold, wet and dark. Yes, winter’s here again. And while most of us would prefer to stay tucked up in bed all day, life (and work) must go on. If you’re responsible for the health and safety of workers in your business, it’s your job to ensure that they’re protected against the elements all year round, but especially at winter when hazards are increased.

Thanks to lower temperatures, poor visibility and rain, ice and snow, the number of workplace injuries do escalate during the colder months but there is plenty that you can do to help reduce winter casualties in your business, as well as make working in the cold a lot more comfortable for employees. Key to this is making sure that you fulfill your Duty of Care to ensure that your workers are properly attired and briefed to cope with the adverse conditions.

1. Warm It Up

There’s no doubt that we all work better when we’re comfortable, so if your staff work outside, it’s a no-brainer to provide well-fitted garments that are suited to the seasons, year-round. Cold conditions require insulated, windproof clothing to ensure that performance is maintained and cold-related injuries or illnesses can be avoided. Long-term exposure to cold can induce tiredness and disorientation, resulting in machinery or tool operators becoming a threat to themselves and anyone in the vicinity. It’s important that, in such circumstances, staff work in teams so that they can monitor each other for symptoms.

Working in winter weather can also result in absences due to colds, flu or chilblains and, in extreme circumstances, frost bite or hypothermia. To keep warm in our unpredictable British weather, it’s a good idea to provide clothing that is breathable and layered so that they can be removed if the temperature improves.

phs Besafe Bright Gear Jackets and Coveralls, for example, have built-in heavy duty zips and elasticated cuffs to limit wind chill and keep body heat in, while our Glow Gear Soft Shell Jacket provides fleecy comfort and insulation along with removeable sleeves that will prevent the wearer from overheating.

2. Stay High and Dry

The problem with getting wet while working outside is that there is usually little or no access to methods of drying, leaving staff damp, cold and more vulnerable to winter bugs and cold-related injuries. Giving staff the means by which to keep dry in the first place, reduces the risk of illness.

Hi-tech materials, such as GORE-TEX®, can repel cold and precipitation whilst allowing the wearer’s skin to breath, removing dampness caused by sweating. Manufactured to EN343 standards, providing employees with this level of protection clearly demonstrates your Duty of Care.

All phs Besafe jackets, trousers and coveralls provide some level of protection from the elements. Our range of Foul Weather GORE-TEX® garments are particularly tough against the elements with either elastic or Velcro waists and cuffs allowing workers to stay comfortable and dry, whatever the weather. The Foul Weather Jacket, for example, has a detachable, stowaway hood with a Velcro adjuster so that it can be worn with or without a hard hat while still keeping out rain, sleet, hail or snow.

Extra protection may also be required in the form of more grip and insulation for the feet and hands, and the rest of the body will benefit from warmth gained by additional base layers. So, hats (hard or woolly), non-slip, insulated boots and gloves should be included in the work kit.

3. Be a Bright Spark

Working with or near vehicles, or in the vicinity of moving machinery, requires extra care in order to avoid an accident. Reduced winter daylight hours and bad weather often means that those working outdoors could be doing so in areas with poor visibility which puts them at even more risk of injury. In such cases, Health & Safety legislation dictates that employees must be armed with effective and well-maintained high visibility garments.

Grease and oil, not to mention the extra mud that’s flying around in winter, can compromise the reflective properties of even the toughest high visibility clothing, so regular, professional cleaning is required to remove soiling, while also maintain the special fabrics to a high standard.

Not only does phs Besafe provide a range of comfortable high visibility workwear (Bright Gear), it goes one step further with its exclusive Glow Gear range. The garments do exactly as you might expect by glowing in low light - all charged by short spells in natural or artificial light. All are classified to BS EN471.

4. Keep It Clean

As we’ve already mentioned, winter can get very mucky. So, when the time comes to clean and maintain these life preserving garments, phs Besafe can offer a full laundry service – collecting garments from site and delivering them back clean, within 7 days. The organic detergents and low temperature processes mean that the high visibility properties of PPE garments (which can be badly affected by usual washing procedures) are preserved. We’ll even address any repairs that are required.

phs Besafe works closely with chemical manufacturers to ensure that the detergents are not only effective but also unperfumed, which means that the workwear returned to site is not only clean but irritant-free too.

5. Change It Up

Alterations to the day-to-day routine may be required in winter months, to make the welfare of your workers a priority in bad weather and poor light. Aside from providing signage to warn of hazards on paths and steps, you can also make adjustments to work routines, such as more frequent breaks, provision of hot drinks and instructions on how to drive or operate machinery in bad weather.

You should keep an eye on weather reports and invest in additional lighting to extend working hours past daylight. Don’t be afraid to cut the working day short if conditions become hazardous. You may need to take on additional staff to complete the job on time but injury or illness will cost you a lot more in the long run than a few extra pairs of hands.

Don’t let bad weather slow down your business this winter - be prepared by arming your workforce with the correct procedures and garments for the dark, cold, rain and snow. Not only will they feel like a valued member of the team, they’ll also be able to comfortably and safely perform their jobs with a reduced risk of illness or injury when adverse conditions do creep in.

The phs Besafe team can advise on which garments will protect your staff from the elements as well as their working environment.  Call us today to kit out your team.

Be warm, be dry, be seen, phs Besafe.

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