Planning for extreme weather

Planning for extreme weather

Winter is here which can mean freezing temperatures and the potential for snowfall and weather warnings. Organisations of all types and sizes should have a clear plan in place on how to deal with extreme weather problems should they arise. Here is a guide to get you started on some of the main issues and actions your plan should address.

Slips, trips and falls

Most commercial buildings have external areas used by employees, deliveries or the general public and building owners or their tenants have an obligation under health and safety legislation to keep every pedestrian traffic route within their premises free from substances that can cause someone to slip, trip or fall.  Consideration should be given to the following to minimise any incidents:

  • Resources: consider what manpower and equipment you will have available should bad weather strike. This may include how many staff will be available (usually needed early in the morning) who have been provided with appropriate training and protective equipment to clear areas and spread grit. Consideration should also be given to whether there is sufficient grit and means to transport it around the site.
  • Prioritise: decide which areas should be cleared for the premises to operate safely. For example, building’s entrances including both staff and visitors’ entrances should be given priority. It may be impractical to keep all car parks and areas clear so decide what you need to do to ensure untreated areas are not used.
  • Maintain: make sure you have a plan to maintain the areas that you have decided to clear so they do no re-freeze over.
  • Communicate: ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities within the plan and inform employees of the bad weather plan so they are aware of areas that will be prioritised for clearing when they arrive to work. Use signs at the entrance to public areas for advising visitors of untreated areas.
  • Record: A specific risk assessment for operating the site in bad weather should be carried out and recorded.

Protecting your property

Snow, rain and freezing temperatures can all create strain on your property, and it is therefore important to mitigate any potential damage where possible by taking the following steps:

  • Increase the frequency of property inspections during the winter months paying extra attention to areas at risk such as pipes, gutters, chimneys and roofs.
  • Avoid freezing pipes by wrapping water tanks and pipes in lagging, re-washer any dripping taps and keep heating systems on ambient temperatures even when your property may be vacant.
  • Ensure key staff know the location of the properties stopcock so water can be immediately turned off if a leak does occur.

Staff and travel

It is also important to consider how cold weather might affect your staff’s commute or driving for work. The following steps can be taken to manage this:

  • A formal winter driving policy is recommended if you have staff who drive as part of their role providing guidance on when it is safe to travel and who to contact in an emergency. Consider also providing emergency kits in all vehicles with items such as blankets, shovels, high visibility jackets, torches and bottles water.
  • In the event that severe weather causes disruption to the local travel network, ensure there are contingency measures in place such as setting up remote access with appropriate cyber security to accommodate homeworkers and arrange for calls to be re-routed from the office.
  • Ensure there is a clear plan of communication to all staff to inform them what is happening during any severe weather conditions.

What to do next

If you would like any further information on how we can help you reduce risks, call us now on 01789 766888 and speak to one of our team.

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