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Health and safety advice during storms and bad weather

(Northern Ireland)

With storm Barra and a yellow weather warning in place last week, HSENI advised that employers should assess their work activities and take appropriate precautions.

It issued the following advice for workplaces, including farms, in relation to any work planned prior to, during, or after a storm. It is essential that all clean up and repair works are appropriately assessed and carried out safely.

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.

The following areas require specific attention:

  • Extreme care must be taken when working with wind fallen / damaged trees, they may be unstable with the risk of crushing for people involved in cutting and removing them.

  • 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.

  • Access onto fragile roofs (corrugated iron, asbestos, PVC skylights etc.) damaged during the storm should only be undertaken with appropriate equipment to prevent falls through the roof.

  • If electrical power lines have been blown down or if there are any exposed electrical conductors, these must not be approached and NIE should be contacted on 03457 643643.

  • 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.

  • Cranes should be inspected for damage prior to being brought back into service in accordance with the manufacturer’s manual.

  • 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 and partially completed structures should be inspected for strength and stability.

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.

HSENI December 2021

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