The change of season is a great time to refresh your work health and safety policies. Even though we don’t struggle with excessive snow or cold weather in Australia, it’s still important to make sure you’re protecting your team from any potential hazards during winter.
Let’s explore the potential hazards cold weather brings and what you can do to ensure your staff and customers are safe and healthy this winter.
Do you have a footwear policy? In the colder months, while there may not be excessive snow fall in Australia, there can be ice on the roads and heavy rain.
Does your workplace have slippery floors? Potential flood hazards or areas that get slippery when wet?
If your staff is at risk of slipping over if the floor gets slippery, wet or icy, one of the first steps to keeping them safe is to ensure they’re wearing appropriate footwear.
We suggest advising staff to wear sensible footwear at your workplace. The right shoes also means they’ll be comfortable and warm (and productive as a result!)
Risk of slips, trips and falls
The most common injury from a slip or fall is a sprain, twist or tear of an ankle or wrist – ouch!
With heavy rain, cold temperatures, and wet shoes that bring water inside, potential hazards can arise.
Busy areas like walkways, doorways, car parks and lobbies can become extremely slippy, so keep these areas as safe as possible with workplace signs.
Additionally, regular mopping and gripped flooring covers can also reduce these risks, while dry storage for umbrellas and coats can prevent water from landing on your floor
Choose appropriate warning or hazard signs to alert people of the risks, such as SLIPPERY WHEN WET.
Prevent slips, trips and falls in your workplace:
- Ensure you have clear walkways and pedestrian areas
- Use grip flooring, where possible
- Keep the high-traffic walkways as dry as possible with regular mopping
- Create a dry storage area to prevent water being brought into your premises
- Use workplace signs in any potential risk areas
- Highlight any areas of uneven flooring with lighting or warning signs
Be aware of reduced lighting with shorter days in winter
The winter weather brings fog, heavy rain, and reduced daylight hours all of which can have a serious impact on visibility. Take care to highlight any potential hazards with additional lighting and signage.
- Ensure you have adequate lighting near stairs, car parks, and high traffic areas
- Add additional lighting or signage where there are changes in direction, steps, or uneven flooring
- Ensure your staff wear high-vis clothing where required
- Check your workplace emergency signage and lighting is compliant with your state’s safety standards
Prevent the spread of germs and the common winter cold
Cold and flu season starts when the colder months kick in and the seasonal shift affects our immune systems.
- In addition to COVID signage, provide sanitation stations for staff to clean their hands
- Encourage social distancing and mask wearing
- Make sure rest rooms are cleaned frequently
- Use workplace signage to remind staff to wash their hands regularly
Keep your staff safe, warm, and comfortable
Cold and uncomfortable working conditions can reduce productivity and may increase illness.
In extreme cases, Australian workers are at risk of frostbite, hypothermia and chilblains (according to JobSafe).
- Provide heating if needed
- Make sure marquees and shelters are dry for breaks
- Provide warm clothing and PPE
- If your team are working in damp areas, making sure they’re dry and warm is must otherwise they’re at a higher risk of becoming unwell
- Make sure you provide hats, gloves, socks and proper footwear as part of their PPE
Warm people are generally happier and more productive!
In winter what are the most common risks to industrial workers?
If your workplace is a warehouse, you work with chemicals, transport or manufacturing, it’s a higher-risk workplace for accidents at work.
Take a look at the common list of incidents below and ensure you have the proper signage and safety measures in place to protect your workers this winter.
- Scaffolding is a major hazard in the construction industry during winter – ensure it’s always erected correctly, use extra grips where necessary to prevent slip hazards.
- If your staff is working with chemicals or fine dust particles and need respiratory protection, ensure they understand the risks and use the appropriate PPE at all times.
- Have you updated your machinery procedures recently? Machinery can be affected by colder weather. Do you need extra processes during winter to check machinery and tools are in good working order?
- Electric shocks and electrical fires are a major safety hazard in the workplace. Book annual servicing to check your electrical equipment and wiring is safe and fit for purpose.
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