5 Top Tips for Winter.
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5 Top Tips for Winter

Every business needs to be winter ready. The seasonal weather can increase accidents on your premises and cause a loss of productivity in your workplace through employee absence and disruptions to your supply chain. Preparing your business for winter can help to not just fulfil your obligations under HSE guidelines in minimising the potential for accidents, but also keep your business running smoothly.

In order to help businesses better prepare we have put together 5 top tips for ensuring your business is ‘Winter Ready’.

    #1 Have a plan in place

    Consider your workplace and its immediate environment. What specific risks would your premises have in the event of heavy snowfall? How would you contact your staff in the event that you were unable to access your workplace? It is important that these factors are considered and planned for so that your business can continue to run smoothly. Remember that it’s easier to implement measures before rather than after snow has fallen. Having an action plan up and running will help to mitigate some of the risks to your business.

    #2 Create Snow Stations by placing grit bins strategically

    You should consider how grit will be applied before the first snowfall and how to easily repeat the process, as salt and grit are often washed away daily. Ensuring that you have snow stations placed across your site, particularly at the side of pathways, entrances and high risk areas such as steps, hills and places where ice forms easily, will help you to easily reapply gritting. Each station should have a grit bin with a good supply of salt and two snow shovels for application. Medium or larger sites should also consider a salt spreader for easier and faster application. Salt spreaders are available as manual, towed or motorised models and provide the optimum even application of salt.

#3 Monitor weather reports

Keeping track of weather reports will help you to anticipate and plan for snowfall in your area. Although there is always a margin of error in these reports, particularly in terms of the quantity of snowfall, it’s always better to prepare anyway and treat all necessary areas with grit or salt. Many local authority websites also have pages showing their gritting schedules and information on their winter procedures. These can provide a great indication of when you should take action.

#4 Grit early and frequently

Grit is most effectively applied before frost, ice or snow form, when pathways are damp or wet and the temperature is at, or below freezing. Early in the morning and evening, before frost has the time to settle are two of the best times to grit. If this is not possible, then clearing some of the snow, ice or frost first with a shovel or plough can make the grit you apply more effective. Be aware that salt works by dissolving in water and creating a saline solution that has a lower freezing temperature, thus preventing the build-up of snow and ice. Grit works in the same way though slower as it is less fine, but also provides traction for vehicles and pedestrians. If there is a lot of snow or ice, then salt and grit will be less effective. Salt and grit can also be washed away as snow melts or by rainwater so reapplication is often needed in periods of prolonged snowfall or after rainfall.

#5 Make it everyone's responsibility

As made clear earlier, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure the entire workplace is safe. However, bringing all colleagues on board and engaging them with your winter plan can provide large benefits. It makes your staff aware of potential risks and can help with communicating these to the appropriate people. Assigning winter maintenance tasks around the workplace, such as gritting, clearing snow or checking reports, will not only mean that they definitely get done, but can also create a team spirit among staff and engender confidence in their workplace safety.

Bonus Tip – Engage with the local area

If you have neighbouring businesses, they will often be facing the same challenges as you. Co-operating with your neighbours can help you share the cost of winter maintenance and ensure that shared access paths and roads are covered within your respective plans.

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