Article 8 December 2022

Winter Working

There are many reasons why winter is wonderful; it brings the festive spirit, one of our favourite seasonal visitors, the red robin, and sometimes the snow. 

The winter can affect our health and wellbeing in a positive way. Some health benefits include:

  • The cooler temperatures boosting your brain activity
  • It might help you burn calories
  • It increases brown fat
  • It could lower inflammation
  • It can lower risk of diseases
  • It could help you to sleep better
  • It can help you fight infections

However, poor weather during the winter months can also lead to difficulties in the workplace. What may start off as a simple task can sometimes turn into a very hazardous task, and activities often take longer to complete during winter months due to the conditions. Handling materials that are cold and/or wet can also become more of a challenge during winter as materials may be slippery and uncomfortable to handle. In addition to this, being cold and having cold muscles can increase the risk of musculo-skeletal injuries, so remember to warm up before doing manual tasks. Cold weather and lack of sunlight also reduces our alertness and dexterity, and therefore may have an impact on those at Mitie who predominantly work outdoors.

During this period, there is a noticeable rise in the number of slip incidents too. The presence of fallen leaves, leaves hiding curb stones where they gather on the edge of roadways, wet moss and algae can cause surfaces to be very slippery. The weather also has a part to play, with rain, ice and snow causing an increased risk of similar incidents occurring. A slip incident can result in anything from a minor injury to a major injury, but whatever the severity, it can impact an individual’s work and home life.

As the days are shorter, the lack of daylight can impact our mental health and vitamin D levels, so if you don’t work outdoors, try to get outside in the daylight at least once a day – just ensure that your footwear is adequate for the conditions underfoot.

So, what needs to be done?

  • Keep routes clear of ice and snow at all times. Be aware of walkways that may become frozen during cold spells.
  • Provide the right winter clothing and personal protective equipment for all work activities. Gloves to provide warmth and grip will be important where lifting activities are concerned.
  • Ensure that high visibility clothing is worn when working outside at all times, without exception.
  • Regularly check footwear for condition and grip. If working in snow, ensure ankle protection is provided.   
  • Raise awareness of the potential for slips, trips or falls in poorly lit communal areas (external stairs, site walkways etc.).
  • Good housekeeping is important to avoid slips, trips and falls in dark conditions.
  • Remember to be mindful of your surroundings at all times, including, people, equipment, ongoing operations and floor surfaces.
  • Report any issues or concerns to your Line Manager.

Remember to consider the weather and if it’s not safe, don’t do it!

For further advice and guidance, please speak with your QHSE team and report any areas of concern to your Supervisor/Manager.