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Winter weather

The guessing game

Author: Dee Jones/17 December 2016/Categories: WORKPLACE ADVICE, A safe, clean environment

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Winter can be a testing time for any business. Freezing temperatures, high winds, snow and ice can all conspire to make things a little more difficult than they might otherwise be. Obviously, the weather in the UK is somewhat fickle, making it very hard to predict what may or may not happen next month, next week or even tomorrow, which means forethought and preparation are key in keeping things running smoothly.

Preparing for winter needn’t cost a fortune and a small investment can make a big difference should snow fall or temperatures plummet. Something as simple as having a supply of grit or salt stored in a secure bin could mean the difference between your business being open or closed. For larger areas such as car parks, a grit spreader can be a welcome addition to your winter arsenal, not only will it remove much of the hard work but it’ll also be much more efficient and reduce the amount of grit used. Whether you use a spreader or opt for the traditional shovel method, you should aim to get a layer of grit down before ice forms rather than waiting for its arrival and then trying to get rid of it; twenty minutes spent spreading at 4.00pm will be much more cost effective and less stressful than an hour at 7.30am the following morning. It’s also worth giving some thought to where ice is most likely to form or cause the greatest disruption and give those areas additional attention. Obviously pedestrian paths need to be kept ice-free but also consider places like corners where cars will be turning, slopes where they might be braking and any areas where water is known to collect.

If a cold snap should arrive, something you certainly don’t need is a frozen pipe because once it thaws, it may well become a burst pipe. Can you imagine just how much expense and inconvenience a thousand gallons of water pouring through your warehouse or office would cause? Foam pipe-lagging is inexpensive and quick to fit and will safeguard against burst water pipes in all but the severest weather. When fitting, try and be as precise as you can so as not to leave any exposed pipework and don’t forget to insulate all external stand-pipes too. 

Mild winters can cause just as many problems as cold ones. While warmer, they also tend to be wet and windy. The UK seems to be suffering with flooding more and more, so it’s important to protect yourself as much as you can. Simply keeping all guttering unblocked of leaves and checking that any drains or culverts are clear and free-running will go some way to ensuring your premises don’t incur any rain damage or flooding.

Just like the rain, wind is something we have no control over but again, we can take measures to help prevent it from doing any harm. Strong winds can easily lift heavy objects that we might usually consider immovable, so it’s worth taking some time to make sure that items such as signs, bins, benches and pallets etc are either contained or securely fastened down. High winds will also find any weak points in the structure of your building, so give thought to repairing anything like lose roofing tiles, slates or sheets, guttering or external cladding before the onset of winter - a handful of screws now, could be the difference between keeping your roof on or not!

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