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HSE Updates guidance on cold weather working

During the severe wintry weather of December 2022 that affected the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) updated its guidance on working in very cold conditions.

Extreme winter weather can affect the ability to operate machinery, putting workers' health at risk. Below-zero temperatures make surfaces more perilous and there is less daylight in winter. This increases the risk of tripping or slipping.

Employers must make sure that staff working outside have appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep them warm and deep tread work boots to prevent slips. Facilities need to be provided for staff to have frequent breaks where they can keep warm and have hot drinks or soup.

If possible, they suggest, outside work due to take place in very cold weather should be delayed until the weather gets warmer.

Inside workplaces should be warmed to at least 16 degrees, or 13 degrees if most of the work requires rigorous physical effort. Heating sources should not give off offensive or harmful fumes. Local heating in the form of radiators is preferred.

Fridges and cold manufacturing areas can be cold as long as people working in them feel comfortable and are wearing warm workwear. Floors need to be insulated If a worker in cold wear must stand for prolonged periods in one place, they need special footwear and protective clothing.

The HSE says that workers and their representatives should talk to each other about the best ways to feel comfortable working in cold or hot conditions.


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