Your staff are at higher risk due to the colder conditions, reduced light and possibly reduced numbers of team members. In this article we discuss the risks and how best to manage health and safety on estates during winter whilst maintaining peace of mind.
Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning
The risk of fire, particularly in estates that raise game birds is significantly higher over the winter period.
Where gas brooders are in place there should be a suitable and adequate air flow and ventilation systems also in place. Other than fire, there is also a reasonable risk to bird breeders of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Health and Safety Executive issued specific warnings on this risk: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2007/gnnsco04007.htm.
With reduced visibility during winter PPE must be kept not only clean but in the best condition, particularly reflective clothing. Consider the increased effectiveness of the equipment by wearing hi-vis and reflective items even during the daylight hours. Although it is the individual’s responsibility to keep the PPE in optimal condition, it is your responsibility as the employer to ensure it is made available to new employees and those who need replacements. At no time should the PPE be obscured by outer clothing such as overcoats.
Winter checks are commonplace on the road. With land management vehicles they are arguably more important in reducing the risk of poor performance off road. Safety checks might include;
Lights – clear and clean
Glass – clear and clean, any chips or cracks to be dealt with as soon as possible
Tyres – treads are in good condition and pressure is optimal for the terrain
Fluids – make sure antifreeze is used where suitable and oil levels are topped up and checked regularly
With the shooting season continuing through to January it could be a good idea to go through a mid-season service of your firearms. Clean barrels, oil the moving parts and re-align sights. A good pair of winter shooting gloves and a good quality balaclava or neck buff are great investments as are charcoal fuelled pocket hand warmers. In the event of a shoot, make sure it is organised and your site is well planned and full information is shared with co-workers. The use of hi-vis and reflectors may not be appropriate during a shooting activity and so risks of accidents are somewhat increased.
As an estate owner it is likely that your land will include public rights of way. During half term holidays and darker afternoons the safety risks to the public enjoying the great outdoors could well be increased and so you need to look after their health and safety needs.
Find out more about the specific needs of the public on our website, including the risks from animals, open farms and your workplace, that could appear to an inviting playground for children.
Managing the health and safety requirements of an estate can be like spinning plates. The areas of knowledge required is ever increasing in key areas, and with the specific health and safety law being a specialist area it is a good idea to engage a professional organisation to help you manage your duty of care.
To help prevent accidents follow these guidelines:
- Keep all risk assessments up to date
- Ensure everybody knows the correct procedures in the event of an accident or fire, including when it is safe to tackle the fire or apply emergency procedures, how to raise the alarm and the location of assembly points
- If you employ lone workers, ensure all environmental risks are considered and there is a procedure in place for keeping in touch with management. It would be advisable to avoid lone working where possible, but emergency procedures should be practiced and regularly evaluated if this is not practicable.
If you’re an estate manager or an agent and would like to know more about how we could help with your H&S and HR management systems, please get in touch with us.