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Winter is Coming!

Autumn Leaves

The days of baking in the sunshine and whiling away the hours will soon be distant memories. It’s time to fall back into shorter days, darker mornings and colder weather. Autumn is well and truly here and winter will soon follow.

On top of any concerns you may have surrounding a severe lack of vitamin D this time of year it’s also important to remember this change in season impacts the type of risks we face when carrying out our day-to-day duties. Each season brings with it a new set of risks, both social and environmental, therefore we must remain vigilant and dynamically assess our surroundings as daylight saving time brings us dark mornings and early nights.

Environmental Risk

Autumn and winter bring with them a plethora of environmental risks for workers to consider, risks that may not have existed just a few short weeks ago. Slips, trips and falls tend to increase during colder months with slip-and-fall cases accounting for over 64% of winter weather claims. The reasons for this are obvious: the change in weather brings more rain, snow, and ice, leaves are falling making surfaces wet and slippery, and there’s less daylight, meaning visibility can be hampered.

Slips, trips and falls make up almost 25% of all job-related injuries and 1 in 6 of all lost-time work injuries. To give that some context, on-the-job injuries cost employers approximately $40,000 per incident.

Issues to consider during the winter months:

  • Extended hours of darkness
  • Poor lighting
  • Wet and decaying leaves
  • Rainwater
  • Ice, frost, snow
  • Road salt & gravel

 

Social Risk

It’s not just the possibility of environmental risk that employees need to be aware of. Fewer daylight hours can increase the potential for violent situations, arising from social interaction - potential verbal abuse or physical attack for example. Dimly lit streets and alleyways mean it could be time to reconsider how you dynamically assess risk, and which situations you feel comfortable entering.

Peering a few months into the future it’s also worth considering the added risks associated with the holiday season. This is especially prevalent for those working in retail. Tensions are high, there appears to be infinitely more shoppers on the streets and working hours will inevitably be extended. Whatever the threat, it’s clear that risk profiles are beginning to change and it’s time to start reviewing risk assessment processes.

Lone Working

All of these risks become magnified further if you’re a lone worker due to not having the same avenues of support. If you employ lone or high-risk employees you have an added duty of care to this section of your workforce. A great way of meeting this is by providing up-to-date information about risk and delivering appropriate training on how to deal with any potentially dangerous situations. By doing this, not only are you ensuring you meet your duty of care, you’re decreasing the risk of an incident in the first place.

As a result of this increased risk during the colder months, it’s incredibly important that your policies and procedures are up-to-date. Lone worker policies and comprehensive training can be invaluable when it comes to protecting your staff; a well-informed and aptly trained team significantly reduces risk. However, for those times when training is not enough, there are other options. There’s still time to make a change in 2018. Don’t be daunted by the scale of the task, if you engage with a credible lone worker specialist then you will experience a painless implementation process and have a lone worker solution in place in a timely fashion. Don’t leave it until the new year – that could be too late!

To view our lone worker devices please click here.

Organizations have a duty of care to safeguard their employees at all times, but particularly when their jobs take them away from the workplace or out of sight. This becomes even more essential at this time of the year. Without lone worker protection, an organization could experience serious financial reparations and the risk of accumulating negative brand perception which will ultimately affect its ability to attract the best staff and customers.

Aside from this, employers have a moral duty to ensure their workforce is fully prepared should an incident occur. A new season brings with it a new set of risks, both social and environmental. It’s a great time to reevaluate our processes and ensure we’re doing all we can both as an employee and an employer to reduce the chances of a serious incident.

 

References:

https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy07/sh-16625-07/slipstripsfalls.ppt

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