As temperatures in the UK plummet to below freezing, experts are suggesting this current cold snap may be a sign of things to come, with some predicting the worst winter in over 5 years.
Public Health England have issued a warning to prepare for a long spell of cold and advising those at risk to take precautions. In the workplace colder weather can have an adverse effect on employees, not only their productivity but it can also make carrying out some roles more hazardous.
What does the law say?
You may be surprised to hear that legally there is no minimum or maximum temperature in the workplace that employers must stick to, only a number of guidelines.
Regulation 7, under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states: “During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable” and “provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing.”
Guidance on working temperature varies depending on the nature of the environment, with a suggested minimum temperature of 16 degrees. For employees doing physical work this is lowered
Fines issued in relation to health and safety breaches have seen a 148% increase in the past year according to law firm BLM.
The average cost of payouts has risen threefold from £69,500 in 2015 to a staggering £211,000 over the last 12 months. Its estimated that UK companies were forced to cough up a total of around £6.1m in 2016, for failing to comply with corporate safety legislation.
Industries that are the worst offenders unsurprisingly include Construction, which racked up £14m in fines, followed by Manufacturing with £12m. Utilities came in third at £8.4m, with Leisure (£7.4m), Logistics and Transport (£7.2m), Industrials (£3.9m) and finally the Public Sector which received fines totaling £2.6m.
Experts have suggested tougher guidelines introduced recently as part of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (2007), have been a major contributor in the rise, as the number of incidents has in fact fallen from 358 in 2015 to 292 the previous year.
Under the new ruling, courts must consider a number of factors including overall culpability
Lone worker solutions are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms ranging from dedicated standalone devices to personal safety apps for smartphones.
When making a decision on which is the best fit for your own particular requirements, it’s important to consider:
– Who are you looking to protect?
– What situations are they likely to be in
– Where are they going to be working?
– When are employees working alone?
– Why do you need to protect lone workers?
Who are you looking to protect?
Lone workers are defined as those who work in isolation from others, without close or direct supervision. This encompasses employees that work alone in premises, home workers, staff based externally or working outside of normal hours.
There are an estimated 8m lone workers in the UK, with over 70% of the countries’ workforce finding themselves working on their own at some point. Lone working also includes employees who stay late in the office or travel to meetings.
What situations are they likely to be in?
Some roles will come with a greater level of risk, so
Skyguard will once again be showcasing our range of lone worker protection products and services at the Health and Safety North Expo. The event, held at the Bolton Arena on 12th – 13th of October is designed to suit those responsible for health and safety at work within industrial, commercial or public sector businesses.
Skyguard will be located at stand E22 where we will be demonstrating our range of personal safety devices, such as the MySOS – Europe’s smallest dedicated lone worker alarm. In addition, our range of smartphone applications will also feature, including the recently launched Skyguard SmartButton for Windows.
The BS 8484 – certified emergency alert accessory for Windows Mobile allows users to raise an alarm with just a simple press. Using Bluetooth technology, the button instantly activates the smartphone application, raising an alarm to Skyguard’s dedicated Incident Management Centre.
According to UK laws, severe failings of health and safety within organisations aren’t only punishable by fines as highlighted this week after a company director was jailed for 12 months following the death of an employee.
Company director Kenneth Thelwall, from Enfield, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment following the death of one of his employees resulting from the overturn of a spider lift during loading. This fatality follows the guilty plea from Mr Thelwall over a separate incident in 2010 when employee Bernard Rowson was crushed to death in a metal gate.
His firm, Thorn Warehousing Ltd was charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act and subsequently fined £166,000 plus court costs. Unsurprisingly, the company is currently in administration.
However, those in charge of the welfare of employee safety, including the safeguarding of lone workers regardless if they’re ‘on site’ are liable to face custodial sentences – consequently having severe, life changing impact on