Staying one step ahead of the elements

Knowing the signs: Staying one step ahead of the elements

The UK has not been blessed with the best weather conditions in the past few years, with many regions suffering from the devastation of flash floods and high winds. For sign maintenance firms, these conditions warrant a continual review of safety procedures and best practice.

Severe weather conditions mixed with sign maintenance work – which often involves working at height and possibly work in hazardous areas – significantly increases the risk of accidents and injuries, and you need to ensure that site patrons and on-site staff are both aware of the dangers and able to commence their respective work safely.

Heightened areas of concern, especially during the winter period, may be thought of as common sense; however, sometimes even common sense can be overlooked and could potentially cause fatal accidents or near-misses. Going right back to basics and identifying those obvious key areas of risk on sign maintenance contracts may be all that is needed to prevent unnecessary accidents.

Protection of work area

Rigid barriers should be used on all sites to protect the work area during sign maintenance work – even if the work area is small. Crew vans with reflective markings offer a safe means of sectioning off a work space, and on car dealerships, retail parks or petrol forecourts in particular provide a strong defence against on-coming traffic. Reflective cones and tape can then be used as additional visual warnings.

Diminished visibility

Sign maintenance engineers and their work areas should be clearly identifiable by all staff and site patrons. Fluorescent jackets should be worn at all times when on-site and all contracted workers should be entered into the client’s visitors book.

Work schedule

Work should be prioritised each day to cater for early nightfall. Any intricate work or work at height should be prioritised, where possible, for hours of daylight where full concentration and visibility are essential.

Risk assessments / Safety method statements

During the winter months, particular attention should be paid to potentially slippery surfaces, including work platforms and ground conditions. Although these areas will be initially included in the risk assessmentDocument assessing risks and documenting control measures needed to do a task., they should also be re-evaluated throughout the day during periods of rain or snow.

Risk assessments will establish any areas of high-risk and allow engineers to address them accordingly. In conditions of high winds, it is important for sign maintenance engineers to take periodical wind-speed checks on-site to ensure it is safe to work at height or use any mobile elevated work platforms.

On-site contacts and emergency procedures

Sign maintenance engineers should be known to the site manager and easily identifiable to patrons and other site staff. A high visibility vest with the company logo clearly displayed will help with this.

Before work commences, engineers should make themselves familiar with the customer’s emergency procedures and designated muster points.