So far, this winter has been an eventful one. We have had heavy rainfall with flood warnings across much of Britain, wintery storms, and very recently snow. Louise Hosking, Director at Hosking Associates Ltd makes sure you are prepared if the blizzards bite back.

The East coast of America took a real battering with unprecedented amounts of snow falling last month. This cold eventually made its way across to the UK, but in the form of further rain and flooding. Only time will tell whether we will experience any harsher conditions than this.

But, what we have to remember is that during periods of bad weather there is a higher incidence of slips and trips. Our advice to FMs is to always plan ahead for the winter; companies should make sure they are ready and have put a plan in place. Protecting the people who use your premises (employees, suppliers and customers) is paramount. It is also vital that you protect the business from possible legal action. And, for this reason, health and safety should remain paramount.

All businesses should regularly check they are not exposing others to potential slip, trip or fall risks; this can be undertaken by simple walk- through checks. Ensure your surface water drains are running freely, so areas prone to pond (or flood), and therefore freeze, do not become mini ice rinks. Likewise, deal with pot holes that could have the same effect. If resources are tight then you must prioritise busy routes.

Have a policy for snow clearance – especially if you have large or multiple sites. Decide in advance how you will handle clearance and ensure you have the people, contractors, equipment and grit in place to meet potential demand.


Ensure you clearly communicate with site users where these safe routes are. This could be via signage, notices (e.g. a marked site plan), or by email depending on your business. It may be relevant to close parts of your site that cannot be made safe (for example exposed ramps on car parks). Again, work with your site users, tenants or residents so they are clear on what they can expect. If you grit in the early morning, it is possible for slush to turn to ice as the sun goes down late afternoon, so you may need to look at whether further gritting will be necessary.

If you decide to work with a contractor, obtain references and make sure they have good weather prediction services in place. A good gritting contractor will organise all of this for you and ensure you are taking the right precautions on your site.

FMs who ask staff to participate in gritting should be sure safe systems are in place to undertake this. Gritting and snow clearance can be physically demanding work, and can pose a safety risk to those carrying the activity out - they should know what they are doing.

For FMs who manage a large site, it may become impossible to keep on top of clearance - in which case make plans to allocate safe access routes that you can keep clear.

If your business needs to close, think about how you might communicate this information so everyone knows as soon as possible. If roads or routes are clearly treacherous, workers should not be expected to use their vehicles – again organisations need to consider a) how they communicate this, and b) how they can minimise the potential impact it will have.

Finally, many FMs worry if they clear snow/ice and someone slips, they are more likely to be subject to claims than if they did nothing at all. Provided you have a policy in place, that you plan in advance and check the robustness of your arrangements once in place, this will not be the case. The clearance work that you undertake, and the plans you make now, may mean your business can operate when your competitors have had to close.

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