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If you're working outside this winter, read on for advice on how to make sure you stay safe on site when the temperature drops!

PLUS Your chance to win one of 3 fantastic heated Makita jackets in our free prize draw!

Whilst we might be experiencing milder winters in general throughout recent years, it doesn't take much for our weather here in the UK to change from pleasant to inclement - and this can present serious issues for those working on site, especially at height.

know the danger Winter whilst being a roofer
Throw in the cold and icy, wet and windy conditions associated with winter - and importantly, the unpredictability of the weather - and roofers, who are highly exposed on site anyway, can experience a significant negative impact on their health, safety and wellbeing. 

However, the good news is that, with a little preparation, the effects of working under harsh winter conditions can be greatly minimised.

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Preparation is vital for a safe and successful operational site, but what are the key areas to consider? 

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1. Watch the weather

Make sure that the weather forecast is monitored on a daily basis so that any poor weather is anticipated and action, if required, is taken. Essential for roofers working at height platforms and roofs should be regularly checked for ice. If ice is present, work should cease immediately as this is a requirement of the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

In addition, it is worth checking windspeed with a hand-held anemometer, as recommended by HSE, to avoid dangerous gusts of wind causing falls.

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2. Keep the heat in

Lower temperatures mean that additional clothing is essential to help counter the impact of cold on the body. Rapid heat loss or reduction in body temperature over time can lead to serious illness and downtime. 

Wear at least a base layer with moisture-wicking properties to draw sweat away from the body; a middle, breathable layer to help insulate, and a good wind/waterproof outer layer, that fits well, to allow for a full range of movement and good elemental protection. Wet clothing should be changed immediately, whilst gloves should be worn at all times. 

Finally, it is essential that hot food and drinks are consumed throughout the day to help keep the body's core temperature at a healthy level. 

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3. Avoid slips, trips and falls

When a surface, such as a scaffolding platform or roof becomes cold, ice can form and present a major slipping hazard, with height only adding to the danger. Such areas need to be treated to avoid slips, trips and falls.

Clearing icy surfaces with salt or sand improves traction and should be applied when and where needed, whilst extra care should be taken when carrying tools and materials. Sturdy footwear - such as robust waterproof boots with non-slip soles - should be worn, with warm thick socks for added protection. 

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