Autumn brings beautiful leaves, fresher feeling air and shorter daylight hours. In order to ensure our own safety as well as those of our workplace colleagues, it is worth noting some of the 3 potential dangers that come with autumn and increased darkness.
Autumnal Slip Hazards
With dropping temperatures, it is likely we will experience the first frosts and icy spells. After summer, a change in the ground underfoot can take us by surprise even when we know the risks. The highest risk areas will be in shady spots, smooth surfaces and where water pools. In addition to this, decomposing leaves can be a slipping hazard in their own right, regardless of frost. Assuming appropriate footwear is worn, the best way to avoid slipping is not to rush, so leave time to get to work on time.
Walking In Darkness
Our office cleaners are usually required to approach office buildings in the dark, often after other staff have gone home. The same key darkness safety tips apply to other office staff who arrive and leave in the dark.
-Light Your Path
Whilst it is best to keep to lit areas, ensuring you can see around you is very important. For darker areas, use a torch or phone torch to maintain good awareness of your surroundings. Be aware that also looking at a phone screen can reduce your night vision.
It can be tempting to plug in music, type text messages or make calls whilst walking, but in the darkness it is important to stay alert and be aware of other people who may be around you. This is especially important when approaching or leaving a locked building, as there will be a period of time when you are focusing on access.
When leaving a building alone or walking alone, it is advisable to show confidence. Walk with intention, don’t dither to look at your phone, and if necessary mock up a phone call to ‘security’ around the corner. Something such as “I am locking up unit 10…you are 30 seconds away…brilliant, see you shortly”.
-Stay In Touch
It is worth planning a route, ensuring that someone knows where you are, and when you intend to arrive at a destination. This is especially important for lone workers such as some office cleaners. Tracking apps can be useful for this, but a good old fashioned phone call or text message is a good place to start.
Whether to avoid being run over or to be visible should you require assistance from a passer-by, it is advisable to wear high visibility clothing.
Carrying items in both hands can make someone an easy target. It is worth wearing a backpack to carry items, leaving hands free.
If you are due to approach or leave a building alone and feel uncomfortable, it may be possible to be met by a security person. Where this isn’t possible a friend or relative could drop you off and meet you. It is important to point out that should a friend or relative stay with you whilst you enter the office building after hours, and they intend to wait inside until you are finished, permission for them to go on site must be obtained.
Commuting In The Dark
Whether commuting by car, motorbike, moped or bicycle, all come with increased safety risks when doing so in the dark.
Commuting By Bicycle in Autumn
When cycling between sunset and sunrise, your bike is legally required to have the following:
- White front light, lit up
- Red rear light, lit up
- Red rear reflector
- Amber pedal reflectors
It is also advisable to have a reflective backpack, high-vis vest and/or reflective limb bands. Reduced speed is also advised whilst riding in the dark to increase awareness. For more information on cycling in the dark, we recommend reading ‘Commuting After Dark‘ by Cycle Scheme.
Commuting By Motor-vehicle in Autumn
Even on short journeys, there is the usual discussion of affected concentration, fatigue and reduced visibility. Looking at visibility, which is relevant for multiple methods of commuting it is advisable to:
- Look away from oncoming car headlights
- Clean your windscreen or visor regularly to reduce streaks
- Slow down to make it easier to see and stop in time
- Wear anti-reflective glasses if glasses are required
For more information on driving in the dark, we suggest referring to ‘Driving at Night‘ by National Safety Council.
Hopefully this article is of some assistance for those who have to access office buildings and other commercial premises in the dark. Additionally, if you like this article, please like and follow us on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter.