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the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees’. Part of this legal requirement involves providing a healthy and safe working environment. But the Duty of Care extends beyond staff to anyone visiting, or passing by, the facility, including suppliers on company business and members of the public. And many facilities professionals are unsure about what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ effort for protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of all employees, visitors, members of the public, and contractors who visit the premises.

All organisations must be able to demonstrate that they have done everything reasonably possible to meet their Duty of Care, and that they have met all health and safety legislation. An adverse weather policy, which clearly communicates how an organisation will manage, and take action in, extreme weather situations to protect the health and safety of staff is a key step towards meeting the Duty of Care in winter. Cold weather and shorter daylight hours create added risk and more potential for accidents to happen. It is important to prepare for what will happen, and establish a framework of risk prevention.


Ideally, winter maintenance should be an all-year-round job. Late spring and early summer is the time to review the winter maintenance plan (using up- to-date information, and drawing on recent experience from the winter just gone, to resolve any issues, explore new initiatives, and allocate budget to improve the plan going forward for the coming winter. Keeping winter maintenance on the agenda through continuous planning and advance preparation is critical in keeping the facilities as safe as possible.


Precise weather information, especially in the winter months,

is a key data source for helping to maintain facilities and keep people safe. A sophisticated level of meteorological data, from a specialist forecasting company, and based on area/localised forecasts, can inform FMs when snow and ice is forecast. High quality meteorological data can be used to reduce the risk of reactive maintenance.


The key elements of a winter maintenance plan are:

• ensuring that the plan is robust through a recognised health and safety management system such as OHSAS18001

• appointing a senior ‘champion’ of the plan so that this has appropriate importance within the organisation and has a high level of buy-in

• defining overall responsibility for the plan

• assigning specific tasks to individual team members

• maintaining records showing the plan has been delivered and keep these for a minimum of three years

• documenting the proactive winter management plan and service activity, fully investigate accidents, and record all details

• ensuring the plan is based on real time accurate weather data and agreed action triggers for service

• carrying out detailed bespoke site surveys within identified hazardous areas

• allocating adequate resources – a dedicated trained team, sufficient and well-maintained PPE

• communicating the plan clearly so that everyone, from operators to staff and visitors, is aware of their specific responsibilities

• measuring performance against clearly defined KPIs

• reviewing plans and policies on a regular basis: at least bi-annually

• sharing winter risk plans with the company’s broker/insurer.


In winter, managing repairs before they become an issue can help to minimise the risk of damage from freezing temperatures, keep equipment running and support uptime.

Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) and Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) create a more reliable way for businesses to cope with severe weather events. A proactive, planned maintenance programme should be considered as part of an ongoing winter maintenance plan, especially in the following areas:

• electric and gas supplies

• heating, ventilation and cooling systems

• fleet maintenance • roofs • pipes and drainage systems.

A winter maintenance plan, with a robust gritting and snow clearance service that comes into operation, 24/7 and 365 days a year, as soon as the daily forecast for road surface temperatures fall to or below 0°c, can provide reassurance for the facilities manager that all reasonable activity is taking place across the premises to mitigate business risk, keeping safety as a priority.


WINTER MAINTENANCE The BIFM Good Practice Guide to Winter Maintenance, in partnership with GRITIT, draws on best practice from the importance of weather data, scheduling interior and exterior maintenance and gritting and snow clearance to the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), driving safely and vehicle maintenance. TOMORROW’S FM | 55

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