Taming the Beast from the East: Snow alerts in the workplace

At the time of writing, the UK is braced for the impending arrival of the so-called ‘Beast from the East’. The businesses that use our occupational health services are obviously mindful of the health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace and also on the way to work.

As temperatures plummet and snow is forecast, we thought we’d share some tips to help businesses keep their staff safe, offering snow alerts that can help to get them through the trickiest of conditions.

Planning a journey in the snow

Anyone venturing out should plan their journey carefully and keep an eye on the local weather reports.

Allow more time than you would usually give yourself and make sure all the snow is clear from your vehicle. It’s actually against the law to drive with snow on your car.

Check your wipers and screen wash. Make sure any auto wiper control is switched off before turning the ignition on. If they are frozen to the screen, the control fuse will blow. Use a good screen wash that protects down to at least -35C to prevent the water from freezing.

Top tip for businesses - make sure your snow alerts provide links to the most up to date and accurate weather information.

Carry a lock de-icer with you to clear your locks. If your locks do get frozen, try warming the key or spraying de-icer or an oil-based lubricant into the lock.

Check your tyres for tread, ensuring that they have sufficient grip. If conditions are really bad you may want to consider whether the journey needs to be cancelled.

Pack for the worst

Be prepared for every eventuality by ensuring that your car is equipped with the following:

  • Demisting pad
  • Torch
  • Hi-vis vest
  • Blanket
  • Food and drink
  • Spare screen wash
  • De-icer
  • Ice scraper
  • Phone charger
  • Map
  • First aid kit
  • Warning triangle
  • Spade
  • Square of carpet/sack/car mat (to put under your wheels if you get stuck)

Driving in the snow

Driving in snowy or icy conditions can be extremely hazardous, with increased risks to both you and your vehicle. A few simple steps can help you to reduce these risks.

Wear comfortable and dry footwear. Sunglasses can help to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow.

Accelerating and slopes

Accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible. Keep your speed down and allow more time to stop and steer.

Move off in second gear as this will help to reduce your wheels slipping. Some cars have a winter mode, which does this.

Get your speed right and maintain safe stopping distances between you and the car in front, leaving as much as 10 times the normally recommended gap.

Prepare for in advance for driving uphill. Leave plenty of room in front so you can maintain a constant speed without the need for changing gear.

Use a low gear for going downhill and try to avoid braking unless necessary, make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the car in front.

Visibility

In heavy snow, use dipped headlights. This will ensure that your rear lights can also be seen.

If visibility drops below 100m, put your fog lights on. Just remember to turn them off when the visibility improves.

Turning and dealing with skids

When approaching a bend, brake before you actually start to turn the steering wheel. If your car does lose grip try not to panic. The key thing is to take your foot off the accelerator and make sure that your wheels are pointing in the direction you want to go in

If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it. So if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Whatever you do, don’t take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes!

If the road hasn’t been gritted, be wary of driving in the wheel tracks of other vehicles. Compressed snow is likely to be icier than fresh snow.

Be aware of micro-climates

Snow alerts should ideally make reference to Micro-climates.  These are areas which haven’t had access to sunlight.  They are likely to stay icy after the rest of a road has thawed; bridges being one example.

They’re normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw. So be aware of that when driving in open spaces.

Snow alerts in the workplace

A few simple steps can help businesses to keep their staff safe on the road, whatever the ‘Beast from the East’ might throw at you. Providing support, advice and an effective snow-alert strategy will help.

To find out how our occupational health services can help you to achieve this, call the expert team at Fusion today.

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Categories: EmployeesOccupational HealthSupport

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