Now the snow – which fell across much of the UK over the weekend – is starting to turn to ice it is timely that employers review the plans they have in place for managing slips and trips.
After the snowy weekend, the country is set for a cold and dry week.
Yesterday the Met Office issued severe weather warnings across much of England and Wales as the snow brings the risk of ice as it refreezes on Sunday night and into the week.
Ice is likely to be a hazard on roads and pavements across parts of south-east Wales and much of England.
Fog patches are also likely to form overnight in many areas, adding to the risk of disruption to travel in parts of the UK.
In treacherous conditions it is important that your staff can get into work and, once there, work safely.
Slips, trips and falls are among the most common accidents in the workplace and the results can often be more severe than people imagine.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are required to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work. This includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks.
This feature considers the steps duty-holders can take to manage the risks of slips and trips in both icy conditions and other risks.
The risk of slips and trips is particularly bad in the colder months. Even something as simple as staff treading into work with ice on their shoes brings additional risk.
Take time to check out the workplace and activities going on there to see what can be done to reduce some of the risk factors.
Exterior management is important – ensure your outside areas are well lit and car parks are properly cleared of snow and ice.
One simple and effective measure is to provide mats so staff can wipe their footwear before entering the premises – particularity important if you have tiled or smooth walkways.
A number of other precautions can also be implemented to reduce risks over winter. To ensure staff get to work safely, allow them longer time for their commute.
It is not just icy weather that brings additional risks of falls.
There are a number of other factors, including broken or uneven surfaces, contamination such as water or spills, trailing cables or equipment or goods that are left lying around and poor lighting.
Importantly, these risk factors are not just limited to winter, making effective preparation crucial.
Undertake a risk assessment of the workplace, identifying anything that could throw up a slip or trip risk.
Then act to mitigate this risk – for example, by tidying back trailing cables, providing matting at door entrances and giving employees suitable footwear.
Ensure there is adequate lighting, put plans in place to reduce spillages and implement a proper cleaning system – such as cleaning after working hours and using non-slip cleaning materials.
The Health and Safety Executive also has a slips assessment tool that allows an operator to assess the slip potential of pedestrian walkway surfaces.
Aviva's Knowledge Store document on managing the risk of slips in winter weather