Dare I say it but Christmas is only three weeks away. Carols can be heard, the Christmas markets are underway and Christmas decorations are slowly but surely appearing in the office. Of course Christmas also signifies the start of the cold, wintery weather that Britain is known for: frost, snow, heavy rain, floods– the list goes on. It is important that in the midst of all the Christmas excitement, businesses ensure their staff are protected and procedures are in place to combat the risks that are presented.
Winter 2013/14 saw the wettest winter on record; who could forget the devastating images of the winter floods and the havoc the wet and windy weather wreaked across the UK. They are sobering reminders of the dangers that severe weather brings and why it is important to be prepared. Colder temperatures can create especially hazardous conditions. The temperature inside the workplace needs to comply with The Workplace Regulations 1992, which states that: “during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable”. Outside the office, it is vital that the pavements, passageways and entrances that employees or customers use are gritted and entrance halls or foyers are kept free of water to minimise the risk of slipping and injury and to prevent the build up of ice. Bad weather can also prevent people from getting to their place of work so make sure that you have a well-rehearsed emergency procedure for staff to adhere to and ensure all employees will follow the same protocol and be safe in the event of an emergency.
Christmas decorations can also present a number of hazards, particularly lights so it is important that these items do not obstruct any escape routes. Christmas lights need to conform to the British Standard and any being reused from previous years should be subject to Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), as this will lower the risk of blowing the circuit or causing a fire. Secondly, when plugging in the lights there is a high chance extension cables or extended wires will be used, so make sure these are tidied away to avoid creating a trip hazard for staff. Lastly, make sure you never leave electric lights switched on when the premises are empty.
It is advisable to appoint a responsible person who will ensure that the office is safe and secure when everyone leaves for the Christmas break. After the winter has passed, continuing to conduct regular, preventative maintenance checks and updating emergency procedures to adjust for different seasonal hazards can make all the difference.
Finally, we wish you a safe and merry Christmas from all the team at Bluefin.