Skip To The Main Content

A guide to health and safety during winter

Health and safety considerations in your business  may change from season to season. During the winter, when temperatures fall and the weather can bring hail, sleet, ice and snow, you  should do what you can to provide the best  safe conditions for your staff, customers and visiting clients throughout the winter season.   

This guide aims to explain the different hazards and risks that winter can bring both in and outside your company building. It looks at the solutions and key ways you can prevent them, ensuring your business provides  a safe environment this winter.

A guide to health and safety during winter

Hazards in winter

Your business can experience many hazards in winter – more than  at other times of the year. Your company might be public-facing and based on the high street, on an industrial estate and visited by clients each week or it could be a factory with a large workforce. Whatever type of business you run and wherever it’s located, you should make sure your health and safety policy is as effective as possible to reduce hazards and prevent accidents and injuries.

There are different hazards you should be aware of during the winter, both inside and outside your company building – from a customer slipping on the icy pavement outside your shop entrance, to an employee tripping over an unseen hazard in your poorly lit office corridor.

Hazards outside

These are mainly the result of wet and icy weather. Places hazards could occur include:

  • Company car park and its adjoining road
  • Pavement or pathways alongside and around your business
  • Shortcuts, like across a grass verge or to a side entrance
  • Sloped areas
  • Areas constantly in the shade and wet or prone to flooding

Carrying out a risk assessment

While you should have already conducted a risk assessment to check the safety of the areas around your company building, it’s wise to conduct an additional one during the winter. This should involve noting the potential hazards, the risk of them causing an accident, and the actions you could take to prevent them. You can learn more about the process in our guide to risk assessment.

Hazards could include:

  • A slippery pathway at your company entrance, frozen over with ice
  • Black ice on your company car park
  • A build-up of wet leaves on the paths surrounding your offices
  • Slippery wet grass where staff take shortcuts
  • Unseen hazards in a poorly lit car park

There are different ways you could tackle hazards like these, from making simple and small changes, to carrying out building work.

Solutions could include:

  • Gritting car parks and pathways to prevent icy surfaces forming
  • Removing leaves from pathways
  • Placing warning cones around slippery areas
  • Fitting signage to stop people taking shortcuts across grass
  • Install lighting to ensure areas surrounding your workplace are well lit
  • Covering walkways or building slip-resistant pathways
  • Fitting a canopy over your company entrance

Actions like these can help keep your staff, customers and other visitors as safe as possible when approaching or leaving your company premises.

Hazards inside

These can mainly be the result of darker days and colder temperatures. Places that hazards could happen include:

  • Entrance areas of your business
  • Dark warehouses
  • Unlit corridors or stairwells
  • Parking areas for deliveries or distribution

Carrying out a risk assessment

You should have already carried out risk assessments throughout your company building. But it’s important to review them during the winter, as the darker and colder days can bring new hazards and increased health and safety risks. You can learn more about how to do this in our blog, How to review a risk assessment.

Hazards could include:

  • Unseen hazards in poorly lit spaces
  • Colder working environments
  • Wet and slippery floors in corridors and at your building entrance
  • Power shortages or pipe damage caused by extreme weather

Different ways you could prevent hazards like these could range from simple to more complex changes.

Solutions could include:

  • Replace lighting or install more lights in poorly lit areas
  • Buy or rent mobile heaters for cold office spaces or update your heating system
  • Fit non-slippery floors in corridors
  • Place absorbent mats or change flooring at company entrances

Actions like these can help keep your staff, customers, clients and visitors as safe as possible when inside your business.

Carrying out checks, temperatures and shadowing staff

Another effective way to help ensure safety both inside and outside your business is to carry out regular checks. You could do these, or make them the responsibility of a reliable member of staff or your site supervisor. This could involve checking that lighting, power and heating systems are working properly inside, and that pathways and other areas outside are clear of ice, snow and leaves.

You could also consider fitting an indoor and outdoor thermometer. This can help you know when temperatures are very low to assess the risk of snow and ice, and know when outdoor areas should be gritted and indoor heating systems turned up. It’s worth mentioning that the Workplace Regulations’ Approved Code of Practice states temperatures inside the workplace should normally be at least 16°C. They can be 13°C if a lot of the work involves rigorous physical effort.

One the best ways to ensure staff safety is to speak to your employees about potential hazards they’ve come across, and shadow them during their working day. This can help determine the main walking routes they use in and around your business and ensure you’re aware of all potential hazards.

Helping your business with health and safety this winter

Ensuring your business is a safe place for people to work, shop, or visit in the winter is essential. From assessing hazards inside your company building, to providing solutions to prevent them outside of it, there’s a lot to think about. So it’s a good idea to have an expert available who can help.

With our expert health and safety services, we can offer you the best help and support, allowing you to focus on running and developing your business. The membership service includes:

  • Expert health and safety advice with our Legal Advice helpline
  • Guidance, fact sheets and documents, including about carrying out risk assessments
  • Regular health and safety news updates that could affect your business

If you’d like to know more about these services and how they can help you, please take a look at our FSB Health and Safety Advice web page. The service is included as standard with our Business Essentials package. Please visit our package comparison page or speak to a member of our team to find out about the benefits of this and our other packages.

FSB Health and Safety Advice from FSB

A dedicated resource destination for Health & Safety advice and news with regularly updated documents written by Health & Safety experts.

Find out more