Safe Working Practices for Wet Weather

working pouring wet concrete in outside wet conditions

With the official end of summer rapidly approaching on 22 September, the weather has certainly turned more autumnal in recent weeks. Forecasters are predicting a wet and windy weekend ahead with heavy rain and thunderstorms hitting much of the UK. If Britain lives up to its reputation for cold, wet winters, this is unlikely to be the last we see of the rain.

If your employees work regularly outdoors throughout the winter, do you have safe working practices in place for wet weather conditions? In this blog, we’ll take a look at your legal responsibilities and provide some practical steps for keeping your workers safe.

What are Your Responsibilities as an Employer?         

There is no legislation preventing outdoor working in wet weather, but employers are responsible for ensuring that practices, policies and procedures are in place to keep their people safe. This includes providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE), training on safe working practices and adequate supervision for employees working in a hazardous environment.

Rainfall during the winter months is often accompanied by failing light and low temperatures. There is no legal minimum temperature for workplaces but government guidelines recommend that indoor workplaces are kept to at least 16 degrees Celsius or 13 degrees Celsius if strenuous work is being undertaken. There is no specific guidance for outdoor temperatures. However, the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations 1999 require employers to assess risk in the workplace and put systems in place to address any hazards identified. This includes assessing work areas in different weather and lighting conditions.

What are the Dangers of Outdoor Working in Wet Conditions?

The potential dangers of wet weather working will vary between workplaces.

Wet and slippery conditions underfoot, combined with less daylight in winter can lead to an increase in the number of accidents and injuries. The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 29 per cent of all non-fatal injuries are due to slips, trips and falls, making it the most common cause of workplace injury.

During the winter when temperatures drop, there may also be an increased risk of cold stress, a serious condition that occurs when the body can no longer maintain its normal temperature. Poor visibility as the number of daylight hours fall, also contributes to a rise in accidents and injury.

Safe Working Practices for Wet Weather Conditions

Appropriate safe working practices should be implemented to address the specific hazards of a particular work under different conditions, as identified in a risk assessment.

Some practical steps you can take to keep outdoor workers safe are:

    • Provide appropriate, high-quality and well-fitting PPE. The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 require employers to provide their staff with free protective equipment and clothing. Items that have perished or become damaged are no longer fit for purpose and should be replaced. For wet weather conditions, choose waterproof and breathable fabrics.
    • Provide shelter and encourage frequent breaks. In heavy rain, employees should be encouraged to take more regular breaks indoors or under shelter. Waterproof clothing and boots may not keep the rain out all day so workers should be given an opportunity to change into dry clothes. Prolonged periods in the rain and cold can increase the risk of cold stress and slips, trips and falls.
    • Deliver appropriate health and safety training. Workers should receive training on PPE and safe working practices. Employers must also provide training specific to their workplace or an employee’s role. For example, a driver should be provided with information and training on safe stopping distances, which increase in wet weather conditions.
    • Appoint suitably qualified and experienced supervisors. If you have teams working outdoors in wet weather, a trained supervisor can ensure that safe working practices are adhered to – for example, rotating staff and ensuring PPE is worn. They will also be accountable for reporting any accidents and recording any actions needed, such as replacing damaged PPE.
    • Amend targets and expectations. In wet weather, workers should not be expected to work at the same pace as in dry conditions. Their supervisor should encourage them to work more slowly and carefully to minimise the risk of accidents.
    • Take steps to enhance visibility. Workers who need to wear glasses or safety goggles should be provided with anti-fogging sprays or wipes. Where possible, tasks that need to be performed by glass wearers should be postponed until it is dry – poor visibility is a major contributor to slips, trips and falls. Workers should also wear high-visibility clothing to make them more visible to their colleagues and other site visitors in rain and low light conditions.

worker wearing correct ppe to ensure safe working practices in the wet


Employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their workers. It is your responsibility to conduct thorough workplace risk assessments in any conditions which you expect your people to perform in.

Howlett Health and Safety Services offer over 30 years of experience. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with workplace risk assessments and training for your business.

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