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How to improve occupational health during the cold winter months
We’re at that time of the year where we’re swapping our tee-shirts for thick jumpers and flip flops for solid winter boots. Ideally, this time of the year would be spent in bed with a hot cocoa and Netflix. But, as adults, we have to work to feed ourselves and contribute to society so a majority of us will be at work through the winter season.
In terms of the workplace, health and safety is a major source of concern for businesses, especially those that require working outdoors. Not only can low temperatures affect the morale of your employees, also comes with some serious health hazards that you as an employer would need to address. Occupational health and safety advisors can advise you on your responsibility to your employees as well as steps to take to avoid accidents and near misses at work.
This post is going to go through some of the health & safety issues that might arise during the winter months and how to handle them.
Trips, slips and falls
The main accomplices when it comes to accidents at work are trips, falls and slips. RIDDOR estimates the percentage of injuries caused by slips, trips and falls in 2017/18 accounted for almost 31% of the overall percentage of injuries that occurred in the workplace, these accidents can happen at any time of the year but it is more common during the winter seasons.
Employers should be making a conscious effort to prevent ice build-up on walkways and anywhere else with pedestrian access. It might be worth investing a professional de-icing equipment to clear roads and walkways.
Tips for avoiding slips, trips and falls:
- Keep walkways and other work areas clear
- Use signs to mark hazardous areas around the workplace
- Address spillage immediately
- Use two or more people when moving heavy loads (to secure your surroundings)
- If your work requires time outdoors – wear footwear with heavy threads to increase traction.
Frostbites and hypothermia
Frostbites and hypothermia are a common consequence of working outdoors in the cold weather. Both can have long-term effects if not addressed immediately, some signs to look out for include:
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Numb skin
- Joints and muscle stiffness
Tips for avoiding frostbites and hypothermia:
- Layer clothing
- Eat and drink hot or warm foods and liquids
- Wear eye protection
Cold and Flu
Colds and flus are probably the most common consequence of the winter season. They're caused by viral infections and tend to spread more in the colder months with closed doors and windows as well as limited ventilation.
The winter months bring with it morale problems, stress and depression issues. Investing in the wellness of your employees means that employers and managers are trained to respond to signs of stress.
If you would like any additional advice as to how best to keep yourself or your workforce safe and healthy during the winter months, please contact Peninsula.