Health & Safety

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Severe Weather and Heavy Snow

29 November 2010

Safety has to be a priority during this period of severe weather.

snowy conditions on rural road

Your Union Safety Representatives will continue to monitor the position in their Areas and Regions to ensure management are dealing with the situation sensibly. People working in BT should refer to the BT Health and Safety Handbook.


Driving in Winter

We are facing some of the most uncertain weather patterns on record. There is no doubt that bad weather and longer nights pose a danger - with about 50% of all reported road traffic collisions at night occurring in wet conditions; even though in the UK it is wet on average only 10% of the nights. Between 3-6 pm is also a dangerous time - when people are travelling home after a busy day at work and children are making their way home from school.

Now is therefore a good time to focus on staying safe on the road this winter - whether you are driving on work business or in your own time. Before you Drive, Driving in winter weather - falling leaves, snow, ice, wet and cold - creates a great challenge for vehicles and drivers. Keeping yourself and your vehicle in good technical repair reduces your overall chances of any mishap or disaster while driving in winter weather.

To prepare your vehicle for winter driving give it a complete check-up - electrical system (battery, ignition and lights); brakes; tyres; exhaust; wipers; fluids, radiator/antifreeze and heating/cooling system. Keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out. It is particularly important to check your tyres are in good order, and have plenty of tread depth. Recent research has shown that effective well maintained tyres can have a major effect on stopping distances on wet and slippery roads. Weekly checks, or when refuelling, are recommended. In really extreme weather, prepare an emergency kit for your car. Include items that cater for the unexpected - what would you need if you found yourself stranded miles from help during a snow storm? Include items like warm clothing, boots, gloves or mittens, flashlight with fresh batteries, blankets, and fresh first-aid supplies.

If the Worst Happens

If you get stranded, don't panic. Keep yourself safe, and follow the detailed procedures in your BT driver's handbook if you are in a work vehicle. In your own vehicle you should contact the appropriate support organisation, such as the RAC and follow their guidance. Safe Driving this Winter Remember to make sure you and your vehicle are in top condition; plan your journeys and adapt your driving style to allow for the road and weather conditions.

Watch Your Step

Winters have been generally mild recently but we should always expect a certain exposure to ice and snow before the spring. Taking care and being vigilant applies equally on our way to work and at work. When outside we need to be extra vigilant when the weather is or has been poor. Snow can mask obstructions and trip hazards, compounded on occasions by the presence of ice underneath the snow. Try to keep to a well-defined route and areas that have been treated when ice and / or snow is present.

It is of course important to take care when inside a building particularly when it is wet and people may have brought snow or mud into the entrance areas to buildings. Working in the external engineering network during bad weather brings its own problems. Hazards such as undulating surfaces and drains or holes are not as obvious when covered by snow or leaves. Care is always needed and when working in rural areas, local knowledge can be particularly relevant, holes created by wildlife e.g. rabbits and badgers may be present when away from defined routes, always tread with caution when you cannot see the ground surface.

The type of footwear worn is an important factor when avoiding slips and minimising injuries. Protective footwear designed for external work not only provides protection to the toes it also ensures that a good sole and tread helps maintain grip on poor surfaces. The wearing of a boot gives additional ankle support. If you are issued with protective footwear always wear it for the purpose it was issued. All people should consider wearing appropriate footwear when the weather is bad; fashion footwear rarely affords the necessary grip and support when conditions outside are poor.

Snow and Ice Clearance

Check to make sure that the local supplies of salt are adequate and request more if these stocks become depleted. In BT contact BT Property on 0800 223388.

Monteray provide a reactive service to spread rock salt and clear footpaths at some major office buildings as appropriate, where it has an on-site presence. At all other sites Monteray provide rock salt in containers for self-help; please ensure that local arrangements are in place to make the main access and egress routes safe during adverse weather.

BT Snow and Ice Policy

Each building will have an individual snow/ice plan depending on the risks associated with that building.

  • Monteray should be delivering against the criteria set down by BT for the management of sites during this weather. This is detailed within the snow and ice policy for the building.
  • The plan is located on the main building notice board and is reviewed every year and updated where any change occurs.
  • Monteray are not required to grit whole areas of car parks for BT, but if/where there are areas clearly requiring additional attention, this will be detailed in the plan.
  • In most buildings there will be an element of individual responsibility and gritting facilities will be provided.
  • Access areas to and from buildings (i.e. footpaths) will be gritted
  • It is vital that in difficult conditions we all ensure we take extra care and are extra vigilant.