Top 5 tips on how to keep employees safe when winter gritting and snow clearing
When the temperatures drop, it’s important to keep those who are performing winter gritting and snow-clearing tasks safe.
As the winter gritting experts, we highlight some important areas to keep under review to ensure the protection of employees who are working outside on your premises, or on your behalf during this time of year.
- Staff must be trained to work in cold temperatures and perform winter tasks
- Risk assessments are current and up to date
- Everyone working on site must wear suitable PPE and footwear
- Monitoring of cold stress warning signs for those outside
- Staff safety and location monitored via offsite support centre.
Comprehensive winter gritting training
Employees that regularly work outdoors should be well-prepared for winter and refresh their training and compliance requirements before it gets cold. Ahead of every winter season, we ensure that all new winter gritting operators undergo comprehensive winter training and rigorous practical assessments via our OUTCO Training Academy.
OUTCO’s thorough winter training is a mix of classroom work, demonstrations and hands-on practical tests.
Winter risk assessments
A general winter-focused risk assessment needs to have been prepared, with provision for a day-to-day reassessment as conditions change.
OUTCO aims to minimise risk, maintain your reputation and reduce all the hidden costs of managing this process yourself. OUTCO will not only complete your winter risk assessment for you but also offer full liability protection based on your risk assessment. We effectively take responsibility for your legal duty of care concerning the health and safety of employees and other visitors in respect of the risks of ice-related accidents during the winter months.
PPE is mandatory when winter gritting, not optional
All employees need to be provided with suitable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which may include providing over-shoe grips for employees who must attend other locations to perform their jobs. The requirements for outdoor staff carrying out tasks such as winter gritting and snow clearance duties are:
- High-vis jacket
- Gloves and protective eyewear
- Steel-toe capped and slip-resistant footwear.
When wearing additional clothes and hats for warmth, make sure they do not introduce a hazard, such as making it difficult to operate equipment safely or creating a danger from catching on machinery.
Cold stress can be avoided
Employers have a Duty of Care to ensure that employees are not working in unhealthy conditions, regardless of the lack of a legal minimum temperature requirement.
Cold stress refers to the negative effects of prolonged exposure to cold temperatures such as hypothermia, frostbite, decreased dexterity, and increased risk of cold-related illnesses. It is particularly a concern for outdoor workers and those with limited mobility or insufficient clothing. To prevent cold stress, measures like warm clothing breaks in a warm environment and physical activity should be taken.
Ensure employees are aware of the symptoms of cold stress and the steps they need to take to protect themselves and their colleagues. Even mild cold stress symptoms can cause us to lose focus and make mistakes.
Low Temperature + Wind Speed + Wetness = Cold Stress
Keeping people safe
To ensure the safety of staff, OUTCO utilise GPS tracking and communication through our staff app. This allows for real-time monitoring of staff locations and quick access to help if needed. With just one click on the app, assistance can be summoned, providing peace of mind for both employees and employers. The combination of GPS tracking and app communication helps ensure that staff are safe and able to receive immediate support in case of an emergency.
Even if you don’t go to this length, it’s worth making sure that all staff working outside during winter have access to help and support in case of an emergency.
Find out how our all-round team delivers tech-enabled smart winter maintenance and other services…
Related posts from OUTCO
With over two decades of expertise in winter gritting, OUTCO’s operational team has more experience than any other winter services provider in the UK