Winter is officially here, and with it comes a greater risk of illness and injury, as we go about our daily lives. Paths which were perfectly safe to walk along may now be covered with slippery ice and driving is more dangerous due to the darker nights. We’re also less likely to walk home alone, no longer having the security of daylight to make us feel safe from an attack or mugging.
One aspect of the colder season which must be addressed and monitored is how the weather and our current environment put us at risk when working. While it is up to our employers to carry out risk assessments and put precautions in place to keep us safe, we should also take a certain level of responsibility for our own health and safety, and those who may be affected by our actions.
Here, we outline some tips to ensure you’re working safely this winter.
Plan your route in advance
Darker skies and more extreme weather can have a negative impact on your commute to and from work. You may find it’s harder to see when driving or there may be more traffic on the roads than usual, meaning your route takes longer to complete than in the warmer months.
Even if you’ve taken the same route for years, it’s important to reassess the journey and set aside extra time to cover any additional time spent in traffic or detours you may have to take in extreme weather, such as a snowstorm.
Make yourself visible
If you’re working onsite outdoors, it’s essential to ensure you remain visible to those around you. Keep a high-vis jacket or vest on hand at all times, so you can easily make yourself visible and prevent being injured on site.
Being visible is also vital when traveling to and from work, particularly when cycling or walking. Opt for hi-vis clothing and consider wearing a light or attaching one to your bike and helmet. The easier it is to see you, the less likely you are to be hit by a motorist.
Prioritise staying warm
Be prepared for the colder weather by carrying extra layers. While you may be warm enough at the start of the day, the weather can often change quickly during winter, so it always helps to have an extra jumper or two to keep your body temperature up, especially if you’re working outside.
Ensure you have thermal gloves, a scarf, and a hat, as well as an extra jacket. Letting your temperature drop can make it harder to focus on your work and increase your risk of illness. In extreme temperatures outdoors you could even be at risk of hypothermia, which can be fatal.