When cold weather strikes, cranking up the thermostat is not always an option for workers
PPE is an important factor which all businesses should consider. In many sectors, work must continue despite adverse winter weather, and employers owe a duty of care to their workforce to ensure that they are not working in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Extremely cold environments could well fall into this category.
For businesses looking to make the most of their winter workforce, adequate PPE provision is a must, alongside providing other provisions to allow their workers to warm up after working outdoors.
Employee engagement is often the key to successfully identifying the specific requirements for winter PPE and directly seeking suggestions from workers operating in colder environments can lead to the right solution being reached. Thick gloves, whilst helping to protect against the cold, are not normally a viable or workable option for engineers requiring high levels of dexterity to carry out their work.
Whilst having cold hands can seriously hinder workers’ ability to carry out manual tasks, winter weather can also pose a major problem in other ways. As the temperature drops and walkways and outdoor surfaces become potentially hazardous, employers must make efforts to ensure working conditions are safe and that employees can move safely between buildings and work spaces, but also that workers’ feet are suitably protected from the cold. Providing sturdy work boots, which provide both warmth and grip, is an essential part of key winter PPE provision.
Adverse winter weather does not necessarily relate to the cold. The UK often experiences prolonged periods of wet weather and keeping employees dry, whilst also being able to continue working, is almost a year-round problem. Many types of worksite PPE address the issue of providing waterproof protection but fail to allow for the movement and ventilation required by many manual workers.
Very few people would say they truly enjoy working in cold weather and see it more often than not as a hindrance to the completion of their daily work. Employers have a duty of care to not only safeguard the wellbeing of their employees during the cold winter months, but also to ensure the smooth running of the business.
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