Health and safety in winter

Health and safety in winter months requires necessary measures to protect the well-being of staff, contractors and the general public.

Employers and employees should be reminded of their health and safety responsibilities to protect their staff and co-workers to reduce the risk of workplace incidents and sickness absence, particularly in the winter months. It is important that employers take the necessary measures in protecting their staff’s well-being and maintain a positive workforce.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips, trips and falls are the most common types of accidents in the workplace and ice and snow during the winter months increases the likelihood of these occurring.

Some precautions which can be taken to reduce the risk include:

  • Keeping floors/walkways inside dry
  • Wearing sensible footwear with a sturdy grip – you can change into other footwear when you are safely inside
  • Taking it slowly and allowing extra time to get to places so you do not end up rushing
  • Keeping an eye on what is underfoot – some places remain more icy than others e.g. areas with less exposure to the sun

    Temperatures

    The law does not state a minimum or maximum temperature for places of work, however the temperatures in workrooms should be at least:

    • 16°C or
    • 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort

    These temperatures are not absolute legal requirements; the employer has a duty to determine what will be reasonably comfortable in the circumstances.

    Outdoor Workers

    Employees working outside must be provided with adequate protective clothing to ensure that they remain warm and safe such as hats, gloves, safety boots and high-visibility jackets. Risks identified in the initial risk assessment may pose even more danger in bad weather conditions such as the risk of slipping whilst climbing ladders or working at height.

    Employers have a duty to ensure that they have done all that is reasonably practicable to prevent employees having accidents due to their work. Different considerations about working conditions will be necessary depending on the type of work.


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