HSENI advice for working in stormy weather conditions

Date published: 13 February 2018

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Work related risks will be greatly increased as a result of stormy weather conditions therefore it is essential during these storm conditions, including strong winds and heavy rain, that employers and employees should take prompt and necessary action to ensure that reasonably practicable safety measures are in place.

The main hazards are falls from height, flying debris or falling objects. Employers need to assess the risk from the effect of storm conditions on their work activities, identify the hazards and take necessary precautions.

Issues to consider:

  • Avoid all work at height. Do not consider going on any roof or near exposed edges, winds in excess of 23mph (Force 5) will affect a person’s balance and increase the chance of falls
  • Stop work in places with a risk of falling objects or collapse of temporary structures, partially built structures, unsupported gable peaks etc
  • Remove or secure loose materials which may be blown and become a hazard
  • Check scaffolding is secured and adequately tied and if required provide additional ties or supports. Following the storm the scaffolding needs to be inspected by a competent person before being brought back into use
  • All cranes have a maximum design wind speed for safe operation. When the wind speed exceeds this limit the crane must be taken out of service
  • Cranes should be placed in a safe out of service condition, in particular Luffing jib cranes must be in free slew with the jib at a safe out-of service radius. The manufacturer’s manual should be consulted for advice on taking the crane out of service in high winds
  • After the storm, excavations should be inspected as it may have affected their strength or stability
  • If electrical power lines are blown down or if there are any exposed electrical conductors these must not be approached, Contact NIE on 03457 643643
  • Extreme care needs to be taken when working with wind fallen / damaged trees as may be unstable and crush persons involved in cutting and removing them

There may be significant damage following the storm, therefore it is essential that all clean up and repair works are both suitably assessed and carried out by competent persons.

In general, it is not possible to detail every work related activity, but all employers should assess their work activities and take appropriate precautions. 

For more information contact the HSENI Freephone Helpline on 0800 0320 121

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