In the UK, heavy snow and prolonged periods of very cold weather are relatively rare but, as a result, when it does happen, we tend to find ourselves unprepared.
As this week’s weather has proven, heavy snow, and black ice can strike anywhere and cause chaos. When this happens, businesses need to be prepared and take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries and accidents which might arise due to adverse winter weather conditions.
If a customer or employee slips because adequate precautions were not taken against extreme weather – such as snow, frost and ice – you may be liable and face compensation claims which can run into the tens of thousands of pounds.
Every employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace and this includes taking “reasonable” measures to clear snow, frost and ice if conditions suggest certain areas could become dangerous.
Here’s some advice to help you prevent accidents during the winter period:
According to the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE)
“Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice. This may involve gritting, snow clearing and closure of some routes, particularly outside stairs, ladders and walkways on roofs.”
But what arrangements can or should be made? Here are some tips for minimising risk from snow, frost and ice.
- Produce a general risk assessment to identify high risk areas, such as:
- places which are frequently in the shade and/or wet
- building entrances
- car parks
- areas with inclines
- Consider pedestrian areas as well as employee-only areas
- Put a long-term system in place after assessing the risk
- Monitor temperature & be ready to take action well in advance
- Keep up-to-date by visiting the Met Office or the Highways Agency websites for weather warnings
- Keep a supply of grit and snow clearing tools in the workplace at all times
- Make someone responsible for monitoring all of the above – and actioning the following checklist if hazards are expected in your area…
What to do when snow arrives
- Grit your identified high risk areas early in the evenings and mornings; well before the majority of your staff (or customers) are due to arrive
- Make sure employees who carry out the gritting are safely equipped for the task
- Put up warning signs
- Cover walkways
- Divert people to the safest possible routes
- Clear a safe pathway to your work’s entrance
- Clear the car park of snow and ice
- Clear external steps
- Don’t forget indoor spaces where outside risks could transfer to the inside
- Record your procedures & fully document any unfortunate accidents
This list is by no means exhaustive and if you are worried about the risks of injury on your premises, always ask an expert.
We hope you have a great Christmas, and if you need any help with managing or cleaning your facilities, please contact us on 0800 4488026