Oh, the weather outside is truly frightful! We’ve reached the time of year where the mornings are dark, the nights are even darker, and the hours that stretch between are either cold, wet, or some combination of the two. While many of us find ourselves longing for the ability to hibernate away the long winter months, the sad fact is that the world isn’t going to stop and wait for more hospitable weather.
While there are guidelines for minimum working temperatures, the law does not recognise a legal threshold. As employers, the colder months bring a host of challenges that can impact ongoing Health and Safety procedures. Failing to prepare your workforce can lead to a decline in employee mental and physical health, as well as downturns in productivity.
Even those working indoors can be affected. Colder weather can lead to weakened immune systems. Close proximity to colleagues and poor ventilation aids the transmission of airborne illnesses, with colds, the flu, and the norovirus being notoriously unwanted office guests.
As for outdoor workers, beyond the obvious risk of increased sickness or hypothermia, the cold weather can exacerbate ongoing physical conditions. Previous back, neck, knee, hip and ankle injuries can all suffer painful setbacks, with aching joints more common in the cold.
For outdoor workers with a physically demanding job, the combination of layering clothes to protect against the cold can lead to an increase in sweating. This rapid change can disrupt the body’s ability to self-regulate its temperature. It might seem like a problem confined to the heat, but dehydration is a serious risk in the colder months if not properly prepared for.
Studies by the British Heart Foundation also found that the risk of strokes and heart attacks more than doubles with prolonged exposure to the cold.
If the weather is not enough to contend with, the shorter days and longer nights mean you need to prepare increased lighting and accessibility protocols.
Staying ahead of all the extra hazards can feel daunting, but it doesn’t need to.
Be-Safe makes it easier than ever to keep your policies up to date, and with the ability to update your employees directly, you and your company can stay one step ahead no matter the weather.