As the winter season approaches, the way that many tradesmen work and the measures you may need to take can change drastically from the summer. With often unpredictable weather and shorter, darker days, the winter months really bring about some challenges for tradesmen of all types, particularly when working outside for some or all of the day. From finding the right insurance policies to keeping warm as you work, we’ve compiled some of our top tips for tradesmen for working and reducing risk in the winter months.
Check Your Insurance Is Up To Date
Having the right insurance policy in place is important at any time of the year but in winter, when risks of weather-related issues come into play, it’s crucial to ensure that not only do you have a policy but that your cover is valid and up to date. Public Liability Insurance for tradesmen covers you in case of injury to the public or damage to your client’s property as a result of your business activity and during the winter, this is particularly important. Even something as simple as walking into your clients home with wet boots and the client then slipping on the residual water can be grounds for a claim, which is where public liability insurance kicks in. This policy will protect you and your business from the financial strain of any claims made against you by the public, ensuring both you and they are covered in the worst-case scenario.
Wear The Right Clothing
As the weather gets colder and often wetter, the clothing that you choose to wear to work can really make a difference when it comes to health and safety. Depending on your trade, you could be spending a lot of your time outdoors and it’s vital not to underestimate just how the weather could affect not only your health but your safety too. The clothing that you choose to wear should take into account the weather of the day, as well as any sudden changes that might occur. Warm, waterproof clothing is a must for avoiding illness, but you should also consider sturdy boots with good grip and tread can reduce the risk of slips due to rain or ice, and anti-slip gloves will also help reduce the risk of slips or even dropping tools or materials, particularly from heights.
Know When To Stop
While finishing a job and earning a living is important, ensuring that you only work in safe conditions is crucial. Knowing when you should stop is a fine art but one that could be the difference between completing a job safely, and getting sick or injured while working. Generally speaking, you should stop working or reschedule a job if you’re working outside and:
- There is heavy rain or storms
- You will be working on an icy surface
- You will be using electrical equipment while it’s wet outside
- It starts to rain heavily or the weather becomes harsh or extremely bad mid-job
- You are working at a height and the wind is strong
You’ll often need to judge these on a case-by-case basis, but taking into account not only your health and safety but the safety of your client, the public and the integrity of the work you’re doing. If rain or ice could cause damage to the work you complete under your trade, you need to take extra care when deciding when the right time to stop and reschedule truly is.
Be Prepared To Make Schedule Changes
Following on from the point above, you need to be ready to make schedule changes as we progress through winter. With the wintry months comes shorter days and when working outside in particular, you could be subjected to shorter workdays as a whole. A job that could take you a week in summer may take you two during winter simply due to the reduced daylight hours and the poor weather conditions. Being ready to make scheduling changes at any given moment to make the most of the weather or the daylight hours can help both you and your clients and customers, ensuring that you can complete a job safely and in good time, without risking your health.
While keeping on top of your health is important all year round, this is particularly important in the winter months, not least because we are typically more prone to catching illnesses like colds and flues when the weather is cold and wet. Ensuring you have a balanced diet is the bare minimum, but you should also consider additional fruits and vegetables to really help boost your immune system. If you suspect that you’re low on any particular vitamins – particularly C and D, you could take supplements to help with maintaining and boosting your immune system, though it’s always best to speak to your doctor for advice first.
You can also keep a thermos of warm drink by your side throughout the day, particularly if your client isn’t the kind to offer teas or coffees throughout the day or you’re working on a building site. A good thermos can not only keep your drink warm but are a godsend when you’re feeling particularly chilly and might need a quick warm-up before continuing with your job.
For more information about the trades for which we can provide public liability insurance cover, feel free to get in touch. We are on hand to help you find the right policy, or ensure that your existing policy is up to date or find you a new one to ensure the right level of cover.