October 3, 2013

Get ready for autumn

Autumn is said to be the season of musts and mellow fruitfulness. It is also the time of year when the clocks go back.

Putting back the clocks inevitably means that many outdoor tasks previously carried out in day light will have to be performed in the dark. This, together with onset of colder weather means there is more potential for accidents to happen.

Operators of plant on construction sites such as telehandlers, diggers, cranes etc. must ensure that windows are regularly cleaned so that all round visibility is maintained. This should be combined with the constant use of rear view mirrors and a banksman if appropriate.

Lights on vehicles should be regularly cleaned to ensure that vehicles are visible at all times and yards and depots should be well lit to minimise the risk of collisions and slip and trip hazards. Incidents involving workplace transport account for a significant number of injuries and deaths every year.

Some outdoor operations especially farming must have a fool proof procedure in place to ensure the safety of lone workers. In winter this takes on additional importance – should a worker fall and break an arm at a remote location in the dark, will he be able to summon help? Would anybody be responsible for making sure that he had reached home safely after work.

It is also important to ensure that welfare facilities are sufficient. The following points should be included when assessing the adequacy of the welfare provisions in winter:

  • Hot water for washing and drying rooms for wet clothing must be provided if necessary.
  • Portable toilets are only suitable for short duration.
  • Water supplies should not freeze and, any gas heaters provided must have adequate ventilation to minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Vibration from power tools poses additional risks during cold weather. Blood circulation may be improved by keeping warm and dry and wearing gloves, a hat, waterproofs and heating pads if available.
  • Circulation is also helped by refraining from smoking and exercising and massaging fingers during break times.

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