Working outside in rain, snow and ice: your employer's responsibilities
Rain, high winds, snow and ice all create serious hazards to your health, and the early darkness of winter brings further dangers - here's what you need to know
The UK climate is relatively mild and free of extremes, but that's not to say that people working outside aren't at risk. Rain, high winds, snow and ice all create serious hazards to your health, and the early darkness of winter brings further dangers.
The problems of snow and ice are obvious, if still regularly under-appreciated – slipping and falling can easily break bones or damage muscles.
The dangers of being cold, wet and exposed to the wind are a little stealthier, however, yet they can be even more devastating.
Windchill can drop ten-degree air to zero degrees at 20mph, and waterproof clothing is not necessarily windproof. It's also not necessarily waterproof after hours in pouring rain if it's cheap, inappropriately designed or damaged.
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Act 1992
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 say that protective equipment must be supplied free, fit for purpose and properly maintained.
Employers must also give training in its correct use, and a 2002 update to the regulations say the equipment must be appropriately CE-marked.
Employers must then asses whether the equipment fits properly, is cross-compatible and actually decreases overall risk.
For example, ear muffs and balaclavas may keep workers warm in the snow, but if they can't hear or see road rollers coming, the protection hasn't done its job.
According to the law, your employers should:
•Ensure protective equipment is appropriate
•Provide mobile facilities for warming up, and encourage hot drinks such as soup or hot chocolate
•Introduce more frequent rest breaks
•Delay the work until a warmer time of the year, so long as that doesn't compromise safety
•Educate workers about the early symptoms of cold stress
Cold stress covers conditions ranging in seriousness, and includes chilblains, frostbite and hypothermia.
Chilblains are permanent damage to the capillary beds from repeated exposure to cold.
Symptoms: Cheeks, ears, fingers and toes are typically at risk, and symptoms include redness and itching.
Treatment: If you're affected, gently warm the skin (not close to strong heat) and avoid scratching. Use anti-inflammatory cream to reduce the itch.
Frostbite occurs if your skin reaches minus one degrees centigrade, which it can in higher air temperatures if you're handling frozen foods, metal, or are wet.
Symptoms: It commonly affects the nose, ears, fingers and toes, and symptoms include numbness and paleness.
Treatment: Warm any sufferer gently indoors. Do not put them close to a fire or heater, as that can make the damage worse.
Hypothermia is very serious, and occurs when body temperature falls too low. Early symptoms include fatigue, shivering, loss of coordination and confusion.
Symptoms: More severe symptoms see the shivering stop, with blue skin, dilated pupils, slow pulse /breathing and then unconsciousness.
Treatment: Victims must be taken somewhere warm and dry, have wet clothing removed, and be warmed from the central body first – chest, neck, head and groin. Warm drinks are fine, make sure you call an ambulance.
If you've suffered medical problems as a result of working outside in poor conditions, you should talk to a qualified lawyer as soon as you can. You may well be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses.
Finding out if you could make a claim is simple: just take the 30 second test below or visit the Accident Advice Helpline site and find out how much you could be entitled to.
No wind, no fee.
Freephone: 0800 740 8782
Mobile Friendly: 0333 012 7002
http://www.mirror.co.uk/features/workin ... ce-4696881
Having said ALL that, remember common sense, educate yourself, at the end of the day You are still responsible for You.
Take a look at the current and upcoming Winter forecasts or Autumn forecasts and any weather alerts or news.
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