In addition to providing employment challenges, wintry weather can often pose significant health and safety risks to construction workers. Therefore it is paramount that regular health and safety checks are carried out in relation to weather conditions and the effect that they have on the workplace.
Extra checks should be made on construction sites, with risk assessments of weather conditions, including stronger winds. This should be done prior to work starting in order to ensure that work can commence and be carried out safely.
Furthermore, appropriate personal protective equipment (for example specialist protective clothing, gloves, safety boots, high-visibility clothing, safety spectacles/goggles, helmets etc) must be provided free of charge to all employees. These items should also be replaced regularly if necessary due to the impact of weather on its effectiveness.
Health, safety and welfare facilities need to be maintained, and mobile facilities for warming up liquids such as soups or tea provided in extreme cold climates to ensure workers are not unduly affected by the cold.
More rest breaks may be required to reheat the body and ensure safety.
Workers should receive toolbox talks on the signs that point to bodies suffering from cold stress and hypothermia. These signs include shivering, loss of co-ordination, slurred speech, memory loss and pale cold skin.
Employers should also consider whether work can be delayed and undertaken at warmer times of the year.
UCATT members with any concerns over anything connected to winter weather and its general impact should contact their Safety Rep or Regional Office for further advice.
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