Clair Weston, marketing manager at uvex, outlines some key considerations for staying safe and comfortable when working in winter.
uvex has a long history of keeping people safe in winter conditions. We were the pioneers of the first anti-fog ski goggle in 1964, and our name is an abbreviation of “UltraViolet Exclusion.” So whether it’s at work or play, we know that having the right equipment to protect against the elements is key to comfort, performance and safety.
1. Don’t overlook eye protection
Protecting your eyes may not be your first thought when guarding against winter weather, but it’s not one to overlook. It’s easy to underestimate just how bright winter sunlight can be when bouncing off ice and snow so ensure your safety eyewear includes 100% UV protection as standard to avoid radiation damage to the eyes.
Tinted eyewear to protect against glare is also highly recommended for those driving or working around buildings, concrete surfaces or vehicle windscreens, while anti-fog properties for workers who regularly move between the outdoors and indoors can help to reduce the risk of injury and improve productivity. But don’t forget, not all anti-fog coatings are created equal. Eyewear featuring hydrophilic anti-fog coatings will eliminate fog quickly by absorbing moisture, whereas eyewear with hydrophobic coatings can cause moisture to spread and build up leading to fogging.
2. Stay on two feet
According to RIDDOR, slips, trips and falls remain the most common workplace accident, accounting for around 30% of all non-fatal workplace accidents. Winter sees the biggest increase in slip and trip accidents where caution needs to be taken on icy, wet or snowy ground. While basic clearance and salt spreading can help take care of the surfaces, workers can boost their individual protection and comfort with the right safety footwear. When selecting safety footwear for the winter, look for anti-slip soles, flexible, water-resistant uppers, and shock absorption to help minimise fatigue. Self-cleaning treads are another helpful feature for outdoor winter conditions. And don’t forget about comfort and ease of use. The uvex quatro pro zip-up safety boot, for example, contains a fleece lining for extra warmth and an easy on-and-off zip, which comes in handy when wearing gloves.
3. Invest in a safe pair of hands
Like feet, hands are also quick to be affected by the cold. As body temperature drops, blood flow is automatically directed towards the core to protect vital organs. The risk of frostbite – where tissue damage to hands and feet is caused by low blood flow – can be significantly reduced by a suitable pair of gloves. Therefore, look for safety gloves designed for winter conditions. The uvex unilite thermo winter safety gloves, for example, are lined with a mix of wool and acrylic for warmth and comfort, while their robust outer coating offers flexibility even in cold temperatures.
4. Keep heads happy
It may be a myth that most body heat is lost through the head but keeping heads and ears warm is essential to thermal comfort in cold weather. A chunky knitted hat or a balaclava may offer good protection against the cold but be wary of combining extra headwear with hard hats, which may impair their fit and cause them to fail. A thin, licensed helmet liner is a better combination for helmet wearers to use in cold weather.
5. Be seen to be safe
Winter weather conditions can make it much more difficult to be seen, so consider hi-vis options when choosing winter PPE. Reflective elements on safety footwear can help increase wearers’ visibility to others, while gloves featuring hi-vis colours increases visual awareness.
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