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Workplace Health and SafetyMay 9, 2016
As we bid farewell to the summer days, some may be welcoming the cool change while others may be mourning the loss and begrudging the switch from singlets and shorts to jumpers and jeans. Either way, the change of season brings with it a few items that you, as employers, should be aware of.
It is a fact that colder weather can cause an increase in absenteeism, potential tardiness, and for those working outdoors, increased health and safety concerns. You can however, plan for all the above by taking the time to prepare your business and your staff.
Winter sickness and seasonal affective disorder
A recent study conducted by BusinessNZ, found employee absenteeism costs New Zealand companies more than $1.26 billion each year, with workers taking 4.5 days off annually due to sickness.
So what can you do to prevent the spread of illness within your workplace?
Health and safety issues in the winter months.
Apart from the associated spread of germs, the winter months can also have an impact on those working outdoors, or those who are exposed to the elements at any point in their working day. All this can present challenges to the way you manage health and safety.
It is important to understand in some situations, staff who are sick at work can do more damage than good. Employees working with colds and flus are at an increased risk of a range of hazards like manual handling accidents, slips and falls.
In some situations, rugging up against the winter conditions could be seen as a hindrance when additional clothing, such as gloves, jackets, beanies and scarfs may be required. Adding these layers can make manual handling awkward, potentially leading to injuries from lifting incorrectly or the inability to hold onto items.
We often associate wet weather with winter and therefore we need to also be cautious as this can result in slippery surfaces causing hazards.
To overcome concerns, conduct a workplace inspection, making a list of the potential hazards and consult your employees to manage these as part of your hazard identification and risk assessment process.
Below is a good overview of all the factors to consider with the changing season.