Guide

Health and safety during storms and bad weather

Bad weather, particularly storms and high winds, present health and safety risks for businesses. You should carry out a health and safety risk assessment to identify hazards and take action to protect your employees, the public and yourself. Remember to consider any work planned before, during and after a storm. 

Who is at risk during bad weather?

All businesses should take into account the impact of adverse weather on safety. Certain industries and types of worker will face increased risk, for example: 

  • agriculture
  • transport
  • electrical 
  • construction
  • those working at height

You should be aware of health and safety risks for people working outdoors.  Anyone using equipment and structures such as scaffolding and cranes face particular hazards.   

Health and safety advice during bad weather

The main hazards during a storm are falling from a height, flying debris or falling objects.

In particular, you should pay attention to the following:

  • extreme care must be taken when working with wind fallen or 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 over 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 or unsupported gable peaks
  • remove or secure loose materials which may be blown and become a hazard
  • access onto fragile roofs (such as corrugated iron, asbestos and PVC skylights) 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 Northern Ireland Electricity should be contacted on Tel 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

While it is not possible to detail every work-related activity requiring attention as a result of storm damage, it is essential that you take account of the storm and the impact it may have had on work activities. You should then take appropriate precautions.

There may be significant damage following the storm, you must make sure all clean up and repair works are assessed and carried out by a competent person.

See HSENI's health and safety advice during storms and bad weather