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What are employers' duties in cold weather?

Employers should be flexible and understanding around extreme weather, the HSE has said -

As temperatures plummet below zero and the Met Office predicts snow, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says HR teams should review their cold weather policies.

HSE, the workplace regulator, stressed the importance of protecting workers during the cold weather following a yellow weather warning for ice and snow for parts of the UK.

Speaking to HR magazine, John Rowe, head of operational strategy at HSE, said: “We’re calling on all employers to take a sensible approach during the cold weather that is coming our way. 

“There are lots of jobs that will be more difficult in these conditions. Most employers will recognise this and make appropriate accommodations for their staff. That is the right thing to do.”

Read more: Employers must be flexible with staff during severe weather

He urged employers to make sure staff are working in a reasonable temperature. 

He said: “People working in uncomfortably cold environments are less likely to perform well and more likely to behave unsafely because their ability to make good decisions deteriorates.”

Under the Workplace Regulations 1992, employers have a legal obligations to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace.

The minimum temperature should normally be at least 16˚ Celsius.

If the work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13˚ Celsius.

HSE also recommended employers avoid slips and trips by ensuring areas around the workplaces have sufficient lighting, are free from wet leaves and are gritted if icy.

The guidance states there should be no pressure for drivers and riders to complete journeys to work when weather conditions are exceptionally difficult, particularly vulnerable road users and riders of two-wheeled vehicles.