It’s essential for all companies to develop a cold weather plan and to make sure staff are aware of what to do when the weather worsens. As brokers we often see an influx of incidents during the winter months which can easily be prevented.
Here our top winter safety tips for Care homes and Domiciliary companies:
Domiciliary care workers to be issued with the appropriate footwear and the correct PPE. Extra consideration should be taken for employees tackling potentially icy pavements and hazardous areas. Footwear can have a variety of sole patterns and materials to help prevent slips in different conditions or appropriate shoe coverings may be provided. It is important that the appropriate footwear is selected for the risks identified. Ensure that your employees are well trained and aware of why the PPE is required. It should be worn at all times and regular checks made to ensure this is being done. Staff should know how to report faults or defects with the PPE and it should be monitored regularly.
Deal with hazardous road conditions. Darkness and adverse driving environments can create additional challenges for employees driving as a part of their job. Special winter tyres may be required for your vehicles and question whether journeys are essential during adverse weather. If journeys must be made, give staff extra time to reach appointments so they are not rushing. A winter driving policy is advisable which also prepares vehicles before journeys and stocking vehicles with any additional safety equipment needed. Do all staff know what to do if they breakdown and are equipped with emergency contact numbers.
Protect your service users and indoor staff from cold weather. Service users and employees working indoors can also be effected by cold weather snaps. Ensure your boilers are maintained and regularly serviced so they do not let you down during the prone winter months. Consider what your back up is in the event that the boiler does break and what emergency heating can be put in place during the interim. Keep draughts to a minimum and consider insulated flooring. Indoor working environments are recommended to be heated to a minimum of 16 degrees Celsius. Provide regular work breaks to enable employees to get hot drinks or to warm up in heated areas.
Guard against slips and trips. Falls are common during winter months and can have dire consequences. Companies have a duty of care to employees and members of the public when they are on the company premises. Remove leaves at regular intervals as these cause a slip hazard. Grit key access routes, carparks, paths, shortcuts and sloped areas to prevent falls. The best times are early in the evening before frost settles or early in the morning before some employees arrive. Ensure there is effective lighting around the workplace to see all hazards. Remember rain can wash away grit! Consider whether it is necessary to use alternative routes and display warning signs and communications. Make sure all mats are absorbent and non-slip. Falls frequently happen around building entrances after rainfall. Consider fitting canopies of a good size over entrances.
Avoid frozen pipes. Water from broken pipes can cause significant damage to your property and interruption to your business. Have your pipes lagged, keep heating systems at a constant temperature and ensure sprinkler systems are well maintained. Do you know where the building stopcock is located so water can quickly be switched off? Do you have contact details of emergency plumbers?
Protect your property. Its recommended that you increase your inspections during winter to ensure your property is in a good state of repair. Ensure there is a regular maintenance programme in place to check flat roof areas, guttering, chimneys as these are all vulnerable property areas.