We’re into November and the temperatures are slowly beginning to drop. We’ve seen many heavy downpours already and you cannot help but think that this is just the beginning of it. We’re all used to snow causing havoc across the UK. However, the Express are predicting that Britain is set to face the worst storm in 144 years. The Met Office are warning officials of a Super El Nino phenomenon hitting the UK – a severe storm which is formed in the Pacific Ocean.
It has been reported that the UK could see at least 1.5ft of rain over the three-month period, with the possibility of the milder weather in November and December leading to extremely cold spells in January. With these early weather warnings, it’s important to begin preparing for the worst and getting your remote workforce educated about working in hazardous conditions.
Below are some of our suggestions to ensure that your workforce is safe during the winter months ahead.
1) Dress for the occasion
You may be part of an organisation that operates mostly outdoors and this won't change during the winter. In cold environments it's important to wrap up and wear sensible clothing that can cope with the temperatures and the possibility of getting slightly damp. Dampness and the cold do not mix well, especially on the human body. Ensure that you're wrapped in waterproof clothing as well as warm clothing underneath. With such dangerous weather reportedly approaching, we cannot stress how important it is that your employees are trained and prepared to work in such conditions.
2) Educate your employees
It's vital to highlight key pieces of information in terms of hazards during such cold times. At a minimum, we feel that informing them of Cold Stress is important – how to recognise certain symptoms of cold stress as well as preventing it. Certifying that your employees are educated on protecting their entire body, rather than just say their legs and upper body, is key; do not let them forget to protect their hands and feet in the cold.
Other common health problems in blizzard conditions on top of Cold Stress - hypothermia and frostbite. Similarly to coping with Cold Stress, your employees need to be dressed suitably and keep warm. This is done with the clothes they wear, the food and drink they consume as well as relying on heating points from their vehicle. Allowing extra breaks to drink hot drinks and eat hot food is advised, especially during colder times.
You can find out more about protective clothing, health issues and management guidelines by visiting the Health and Safety Executive guidance. Other important winter weather related hazards that you should warn your employees about are: slippery environments, windy conditions and fallen debris in particular.
3) Keep on top of their vehicle's condition
Your remote workforce will most certainly be relying on their vehicle during these difficult times. It’s important to ensure that the heating in the car is working, the tyres are in good condition (consider winter tyres) and check that the oil pressure is good.
Kit your workers up so they’re prepared. Having a survival kit in the car could be hugely beneficial, especially if their car was to break down - stock warm foil blankets, hot drinks, snacks and spare tyres in case they get stranded. Keep your engineers well-informed of what to do in the event of a breakdown. Have a 24-hour emergency breakdown number in their van and maybe even have it saved on their company mobile.
4) Effectively manage the workload and your workforce
Divide your team into effective pairs to ensure that no one works alone during these times. This can be done in many different ways, including a cloud based system such as ours here at Okappy. Okappy's cloud-based system would allow you and your management team to review all open jobs and divide the workload equally and easily. Allocating the right jobs to the right workers during peak times will prove essential.
5) Be smart – keep track of traffic updates
This winter and festive time would be best optimised by being prompt and organised – a key boost provided by Okappy's web app. Okappy lets you monitor key information like traffic updates, allowing you to give congestion the slip by using radar mapping. If you don’t have radar mapping then a Sat Nav and TomTom are just as good. To sum it up: bypass traffic effectively, keep yourself sane and your customers happy.
Find out more about viewing your engineers' latest location and traffic condition.
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