Windows and doors account for significant heat loss in winter. Check for drafts, leaks and cracks that can allow heated air to escape. Frozen and burst pipes are the leading cause of property damage from winter weather. Just a small fracture can release many gallons of water, damaging masonry and plaster, carpets and other contents. Regular detailed examination of pipes, insulation and stop taps across the premises, with careful attention to temperature and water flow will help avoid cracks.

KEEP ON TOP OF ROOFS A thorough check of all roofing should be made for a build-up of water, ice, or snow that could compromise the roof’s structural integrity. Gutters and downspouts should divert roof drainage away from the building’s foundation as when these are clogged or incorrectly positioned, they have little or no effect. If gutters and downspouts are not well-maintained, blockages will occur, and the accumulation of water will eventually cause damage.

LIGHTEN UP When the hours of darkness are increased, businesses must ensure that exterior lighting is programmed for the change so that the building, its visitors and occupants are kept safe.

SAFE ENTRY Ensure access routes and car parks are safe from the risk of ice and snow for staff, visitors and contractors working on site. Implement a gritting and snow service for entrances, walkways and car park areas. Ideally gritting should be done prior to ice formation or it will need to work harder on an already frozen surface, leaving a degree of risk present while the salt is taking effect. In winter, as employees and customers bring in ice and snow on their footwear, it is important to have absorbent mats in place and regularly clean entrances during the day so slip hazards from wet floors are avoided.

REMEMBER OUTDOORS Trees and branches should be trimmed back to avoid any impact on roof integrity as dead trees

and branches can become falling hazards during winter. Fallen leaves that become wet or have started to decay can create slip risks, hiding any hazard that may be on a path or by creating a slip risk themselves. Regular leaf removal procedures should be put in place as part of the winter maintenance plan. Clear leaves from pipes, gutters and drainage gullies as part of the leaf- clearing regime.

OUTSOURCING Creating a completely risk-free workplace is almost impossible. However, a ‘belt and braces’ approach to proactively managing the winter maintenance plan will minimise any risk to business. Identifying and tracking winter maintenance issues can be complex, especially for businesses that host vulnerable people and those with disabilities.

Consider whether such a specialist service can be delivered in-house or if it can actually be done better by an expert third party so any risk is mitigated as far as possible. 27

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