With parts of the UK experiencing bitterly cold weather, snow and icy conditions with sub zero temperatures, roofers need to take extra care.
With Storm Emma approaching, Met Office Red Warnings in place for mid-Scotland, South West and South Wales, roofers need to be especially careful to stay warm and guard against accidents onsite.
As well as the risk of slips and falls, prolonged exposure to the cold can heighten risks of accidents and illness.
Employers should be carrying out daily risk assessments and know when to call a temporary halt to outside work or even close sites completely. They should also ensure that workers who are continuing with normal activities are dressed appropriately with suitable workwear to guard against the cold.
Top Ten Tips for Safe Working in Extreme Cold Weather Conditions
- Stay up-to-date with the weather forecast to prepare for poor weather conditions
- Daily risk assessments should be completed onsite with particular attention to safe access and walkways at height. Do not work on roofs in snow or ice.
- Check wind speeds in your area. Winds in excess of 23mph (Force 5) will affect a persons balance and work should stop on roofs.
- Ensure workers have the appropriate workwear and PPE for the conditions. Reflective PPE is needed in reduced visibility conditions. Several thin layers are best, with waterproof and windproof top layers. Also choose water resistant footwear, with enhanced slip resistance or ice grips.
- Wear a hat – 30% of body heat is lost through the head. Howeve,r be careful not to limit sight, hearing or the ability to wear a safety helmet or eye or ear protection.
- Gloves should be worn when the temperature drops below 4°C.
- Cold weather increases the risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome, so keep your hands and arms warm when using vibratory equipment such as drills, nails guns and even hand tools, such as hammers. Take regular breaks.
- Provide plenty of breaks in heated areas with hot drinks available and consider job rotation to limit exposure to the cold.
- Be aware of the symptoms of cold exposure – heavy shivering, uncomfortable coldness, numbness, aching, severe fatigue, confusion, drowsiness and/or euphoria. Seek immediate medical help if these symptoms are being experienced.
- Know when to stop. Do not put yourself at risk to complete a job. Many UK workers have had to stay at home this week. Stay safe.