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Winter safety advice for care homes and carers

As the dark nights draw in and the weather gets colder, making sure that your patients, residents and colleagues are kept safe this winter should be one of your top priorities.

It’s not only the people on your premises that you need to keep safe, but also employees who travel during their working hours and the people that you provide care services to.

The cold weather increases risks of accidents and illness. There are many hazards and risks that cold weather can bring, ranging from treacherous driving conditions, increased risk of colds or flu and slips, trips or falls.

It is important that your health and safety policies and procedures are up to date as well as putting some additional measures in place during the winter months. Here are some tips for you as an employer, to help keep those you are responsible for safe:

Safety around your premises

Slips, trips and falls

The risk of slips, trips and falls increases in the autumn and winter for many reasons, such as:

  • there is less daylight
  • leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippy
  • the cold weather can cause ice and snow to build up on paths.1

For elderly people, even slight falls can cause serious injuries which can have ongoing complications.

Follow this health and safety guidance to help minimise winter risks:

  • help your residents or patients when on slippery surfaces
  • ensure your residents or patients wear suitable footwear for better traction
  • ensure your residents or patients wear clothing that could soften a blow if they fall
  • try to minimise the need to go outside
  • spread grit around your premises
  • encourage people to use gritted areas and to not take shortcuts
  • encourage people to wipe their feet when entering your premises
  • consider encouraging residents to use a stick or walking pole and take small steps
  • install adequate rails around your premises for people to hold onto.

Clearing ice and snow

It’s important to make sure that car parks and footpaths around your premises are kept clear of snow and ice where possible. Slips, trips and falls are the most common types of accident, and if you leave ice and snow around your premises, there is more risk of this happening.

Taking care to clear ice and snow reduces the likelihood that you’ll be sued or held responsible if someone is injured, but you must make sure that:

  • you do not make conditions worse by creating a sheer icy surface. Don’t just pour boiling water over the pavement and then leave it.
  • you must keep on top of clearing the ice and snow, if the weather conditions are bad, it will come back.

Winter driving

If your employees travel during working hours to care for clients in their homes, or if you’re a doctor making a home visit, it’s important to be aware of the heightened risks on the road during the bad weather conditions.

Staying safe at home

If you’re visiting clients or patients in their home, be aware of the risk of hypothermia. Simple steps can help prevent this such as making sure that the people you care for regularly have hot drinks and eat hot meals. Make sure that they have enough warm clothing on and if possible that they move regularly.

Keeping your employees and residents healthy

There’s plenty of health and safety advice for care homes about how to keep your working conditions to the expected standards during bad weather and cold spells.

You can find information on minimum temperatures for work2 and protective equipment3 amongst other subjects on the HSE website, to keep your employees healthy.


Source:
1. Slips and trips - Icy conditions and winter weather (hse.gov.uk)
2. HSE - Temperature: Frequently asked questions
3. INDG174 Personal protective equipment (PPE) at work (hse.gov.uk)


The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable and should be understood to be general insurance and risk management information only. The information is not intended to be taken as advice and cannot be relied upon as such.

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Health and safety guide

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