Make Sure That your Business is Prepared for the Risks Associated with Bad Weather
Each year in the UK we experience a variety of winter weather related problems, frequently caused by snow, falling leaves and icy conditions. Therefore, if you have not done so already, it is a good time for your business to review what risk assessment procedures you have in place to deal with any severe weather hazards as well as to consider how your business will manage any employee disruptions.
Severe Weather Risk Assessment
Our comprehensive Severe Weather Risk Assessment package will help employers to assess and fulfill their statutory duties under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
All employers have a duty of care to their employees and others who may be affected by their business activities. Slips and trips are the single biggest cause of injury at work at any time, and these increase significantly during the winter months. Along with our Severe Weather Risk Assessment Form (Example) we have included a detailed but non-exhaustive list of common slip and trip hazards. For each hazard we suggest simple but effective actions that you can take to help reduce the chances of anyone suffering slips or trips.
The employer needs to do all they can to mitigate and manage this process and ensure that effective action has been taken to reduce the chances of severe weather hazards.
Our range of Severe Weather Risk Assessment templates can assist you in implementing the necessary action plans you need. These templates aim to help you to keep your working areas safe as well as providing you with the reassurance (and evidence) that you have taken the relevant steps to prevent a breach of legislation or accidents resulting from negligence in relation to severe weather hazards.
Severe Weather and Disruption to Public Transport Policy
Employers also need to be aware of potential difficulties and disruptions for employees caused by severe weather. Disruption to public transport during the winter months and severe weather conditions may mean that employees may find it difficult to get into work.
It’s a good idea to have a policy like this in place in order to reduce the possibility of confusion on the part of employees and their managers. Creating this policy will mean that the employer has given consideration in advance as to how absences due to severe weather and disruption to public transport will be treated.
Our Severe Weather and Disruption to Public Transport Policy aims to strike a balance between providing employees with flexibility in the event of severe weather events whilst trying to minimise disruption to employers who need to run their businesses twelve months of the year.
Employers should consider alternative ways of enabling employees to continue working, for example, allowing them to work from home or to work flexible hours, or allowing employees to take paid annual or unpaid leave. The key thing is to be consistent in how employees are treated and to be mindful of the obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees.
If an employee does not turn up for work or turns up late because of adverse weather or disruptions to public transport, the employer is entitled to treat the absence as an unauthorised absence, which means that the employee is not entitled to be paid. However, both severe weather and disruption to public transport are situations that are out of the employee’s control. Thus, the employer should proceed with extreme caution and the reasons for an employee’s non-attendance should be fully investigated before any action is taken, such as stopping his or her pay.
Safe Driving on Company Business
Both the Company Safe Driving Policy and the Driving for Work – Guidance for Employees have been updated to include a new section dealing with driving in severe weather conditions. The additions should facilitate safer driving practices for those who drive on company business in bad weather.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.