During the winter, there’s increased chance of having an accident (slips), developing mental health symptoms (lack of daylight, less of a want to go out), and health problems due to cold weather.

Keep reading as we explain how to stay safe when working this winter.

General winter advice

Stay in your routine

Get up and go to bed at the same time every day, this will help with your sleep quality. Try and get outside every day, go for a walk at lunchtime, even if it just a short walk for 10mins as a minimum.

Wrap up for the weather

Wearing layers is the best way, as you can take off a layer if you are feeling warm or add a layer if you are feeling cold.  Keep your head and fingers covered, especially when it’s really cold.

Be prepared for ice

To prevent slips and trips when walking out and about in the winter, invest in some quality walking shoes or boots or wellies. Go for shoes that have really good grip.

If you live in an area that could be prone to ice and on a road where the gritters don’t normally go, buy the cheapest available cat litter or use sand. Cat litter helps with traction and it’s easier and safe to store in your car, but it can become slushy when wet

Sand can prevent slipping on pavements (especially the area outside your front door), however, you’ll need to reapply it regularly.

Avoid commuting in the dark

In winter, the days are shorter meaning there is less daylight, and the increased chance for rain, snow and sleet. Inclement weather makes for dangerous driving and walking conditions.

One good thing to come out of the COVID-19 lockdown, is lots of us can work at home. Talk with your line manager and see if you can work at home in winter, to avoid the commute, where most accidents happen (driving and walking).

If you don’t like working at home, talk with your line manager about working the middle of the day in the office. For example, if you can work from 09.00-11.00 at home, between 11.00 and 15.00 in the office and the rest of the day at home, you won’t have to commute in the dark.

Keep out of the cold

To avoid the cold coming in, use draught excluders. These don’t have to be expensive or even designed for this purpose, using an old rolled up towel would also work, anything that can cover the bottom of your door (especially the front and back doors).

Be gas and fire aware

If you haven’t already got them installed, consider getting a smoke detector and a CO detector. These are particularly important as it’s likely you’ll have a gas boiler, and your heating will be on.

Advice for home and hybrid workers

When working at home in winter, think about your working environment and desk setup.

If you’re cold, think about using a blanket instead of putting the heating on whilst sat at your desk. Nobody wants to waste energy (or money) on heating their entire home, so if you do decide to have the heating on, just put it on for 20 mins or so, until your office area is heated enough and then turn off (or down to the lowest setting). Turn off the radiators that are in rooms that don’t need to be heated whilst you are working at home. Here’s some energy efficiency guidance.

The likelihood is you’ll still be working when the sun sets. In the UK in the middle of December the sunsets around 15:50, so think about how you’ll light your working area. Will you use the main lights or a desk lamp?

Driving for work or driving to get to work advice

General considerations

  • Do you have to drive?
    • Are there alternatives? Such as videoconferencing or using public transport
    • If there is heavy rain, ice, snow or fog – can you work from home?
  • If you have to drive:
    • Check the weather before you leave, including the destination and the time you’re due to drive home
    • Talk with your line manager about what to do if there’s extreme weather. Can you stay in a hotel, if the roads are too dangerous or you do not feel confident to drive in this type of weather?

Vehicle considerations

  • Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained with an up-to-date MOT, regular services and regular checks by yourself
  • Check your tyres to make sure they’re in good condition and have a tread depth of at least 3mm
  • Make sure there’s anti-freeze in your radiator and windscreen washer bottle
  • Keep an ice scraper and de-icer in your vehicle
  • Pack a winter driving kit in case of an emergency. Consider having a winter driving kit, to include:
    • A torch
    • Blanket
    • Warm clothes (extra coat)
    • Food (snacks) and drink (water)
    • First Aid kit
    • Spade
    • Warning triangle
    • High-Vis vest
  • Always carry a well-charged phone in case of emergencies
    • Consider writing down emergency contact numbers in case you need to use a landline
  • Check the weather and plan your journey.

Driving in winter weather

  • Slow down – Only travel at speeds that will allow you can stop within the distance you can see ahead
  • Maintain a safe space between you and the vehicle in front
  • Be extra vigilant for people, animals and hazards
  • Avoid harsh breaking and accelerating or sharp steering
  • Take corners slowly and steer gently to avoid skidding
  • Never brake if the vehicle skids, instead, ease off the accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until you regain control
  • Use lights accordingly
    • Fog lights for foggy conditions
    • Dipped headlights when visibility is reduced

How we can help

Cardinus provides expert safety training for a range of work-related risks.

Reduce the risk of collision and increase your workers’ road safety awareness with our Online Driver Training and Risk Assessments.

Help workers to recognise mental health risks in themselves and others with our Wellbeing eLearning – mental health awareness and personal wellbeing training.

For more information about how we can support your organisation with training and safety requirements, contact us today.

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