Q&A Session – Roddy McGowan: What should I consider for travelling in winter conditions?

Roddy McGowan – LCE Safety Consultant & Trainer answers your work related health and safety queries as part of our monthly Q&A session.

“What should I consider for travelling in winter conditions?”

Roddy McGowan:

Severe weather challenges all of us. Activities that we undertake at work and at home can become more hazardous in severe weather conditions.

A risk assessment should be conducted to determine the risk management controls required for all eventualities. Each area should have an Emergency Response Plan to follow in the event of adverse weather conditions.

The main message is be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help should you need it.

Ensure all employees, customers, visitors and public are aware of the hazards and risk associated with adverse weather conditions, issue information to staff on precautions that they can take during the period which could include driving tips etc.

Take a proactive stance when implementing control measures. Risk assess the various areas. As a priority put sandbags at openings where water could gain access and clear or grit all access routes and areas with high pedestrian use e.g. footpaths, walkways, entrance and exits within your control. Other areas should be prioritised thereafter.

 All relevant documentation and records should be retained on file with appropriate information e.g. date and times of gritting exercises and who completed such tasks.

 Ensure all incidents and accidents are recorded in accordance with standard operating procedures.

Hazards: Driving for Work in Winter – some tips.

  • Is the trip necessary? – Limit travel as far as possible to essential journeys only If you have no option but to drive.
  • Is your vehicle in a roadworthy condition prior to driving? Please check that the;
  • Check tyres are in good condition and inflated to the correct pressure (including the spare), vehicle has plenty of fuel, wipers, defrosters and lights are in good working order, Ice-scraper or de-icer is available for ice or snow.
  • Carry an emergency kit in your vehicle containing items such as:
    • A high visibility, reflective jacket or vest (so that you can put it on before you leave the vehicle)
    • a torch with extra batteries,
    • an emergency warning triangle
    • a mobile phone – for use only when parked.
  • In cases where travel is unavoidable in extreme weather conditions, consider carrying items such as:
    • Warm clothing including a hat, gloves
    • a warm blanket or sleeping bag
    • boots
    • food
    • warm drink in a flask
    • shovel and materials for providing wheel traction if driving on soft ground or snow (such as chains, old carpet, sand, gravel or salt).