Don’t Get Caught Offside: Show Snow and Ice claims the Red Card
Vicky Lopez, founder and director of De-ice (www.de-ice.co.uk
) The chaos of Winter 2017-18
In our 20+ years of operation, I can firmly say that last winter was our trickiest one yet. This was the season where three major snow events all rolled into the one period. It was also a long season; with winter starting in early November 2017 and going through until mid April 2018. And to make it even more challenging, some nights we’d see temperatures of plus 8 or 9 degrees, followed by minus 3 the next. At De-ice, we have to be ‘on our toes’
– all the time, particularly when more adverse weather is forecast. While the ‘Beast from the East’ presented many challenges, we were able to draw on our 20-year experience to deliver workable solutions for our client sites. Our operatives (gritters) undertook over 26,000 visits across the country, and our snow ploughs kept clearing the way for more than 1500 hours. At times, it was relentless, but we are
proud of what we achieved to help keep Britain moving. We always ensured high service levels, and our switchboard – operating 24/7 – never missed a call.
Preparation is vital – you have a duty of care
The same message is relayed year after year; companies need to be prepared for the winter that lies ahead. I am not a betting person, but – given our experience and weather knowledge – I would be taking a punt on Winter 2018-19 being another challenging one. After the last major snow events over the 2009/10 winter the following two winters were both snowy with prolonged sub-zero conditions. Last year’s extreme weather hit home the
real need for businesses to have a winter maintenance plan, or face being caught out. Organisations from businesses to hospitals,
shopping centres to sports stadiums have a duty of care to ensure their premises remain safe at all times. Failure to take the right approach can and will – inevitably – have disastrous consequences. The ‘compensation culture’ society we
live in, coupled with the increasingly severe winter weather means we are likely to see increasing claims arising from people slipping on snow and ice in the winter months. The potential cost of such claims for companies and other organisations ranges from a few thousand to millions of pounds, and that doesn’t include the potential for bad publicity and damage to reputation.
Football stadiums – a whole new set of dynamics
When it comes to sports stadiums and venues, it is vital to ensure all training and matches proceed as scheduled, given the
potential for significant revenue losses. But the considerations don’t just come in the form of groundsmen clearing the pitch or track, it’s also about ensuring that stadiums, walkways and car parks are kept free of ice and snow and that the ground is safe for both vehicles and pedestrians. The safety of players, spectators, on site staff and suppliers all need to be factored. And these are sites which operate 24/7, irrespective of whether an event is scheduled or not. There is also the consideration around
the value for a team of any professional athlete, particularly of top football league players legs. Think about the scenario of a world-class footballer slipping on untreated ground, and the potential loss incurred if they are ruled out for a season, or – worse still – the impact of a career limiting injury. The cost of a high value claim would be the tip of the iceberg.
Tips for an effective winter risk management
• Have a game plan – the extreme weather over the past few years shows the importance of having a plan.
• Select your team – engage the right winter risk management partner early, to ensure a consistent level of service and the guarantee of a complete audit trail. Such a service enables clients to demonstrate best practice, adhere to health and safety requirements and manage the impact of adverse weather to their business.
• Be ahead of the game – keep an eye on temperatures and the forecast. Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best time is before the frost settles. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs enough time to dissolve and activate the chemical reaction.
• Know your opposition – understand when and why your gritting is happening – the trigger for service activation can be determined on a site by site basis, with the industry standard being a forecast of zero degrees and below.
• Share your tactics – talk to your people, consult with those on the ground to formulate realistic and sustainable solutions. Consider your visitor, customer and staff needs at all times. We understand that working to deadlines ahead of events is key to maintaining safety, while providing the best customer experience possible.
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