Don’t let Britain’s cold snap catch you off guard

By on 8th December 2016

With this winter now predicted to be one of the coldest for years, businesses need to be prepared for the increased risk of slips and trips caused by snow and ice.

“The UK is set to see the most widespread cold snap for this year so far as sub-zero temperatures are expected to sweep across the country, leading Britain into a colder-than-average December.

Temperatures are going to drop to below freezing across the UK on Monday night, according to the Met Office, prompting bookmaker Ladbrokes to offer odds of 2/1 that a new record is set for the coldest night of 2016 before next Sunday.” www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/weather-met-office-uk-cold-temperatures-snow-a7443346.html

Slips and trips already account for the largest proportion of workplace accidents, and these are most prevalent during autumn and winter months.

The HSE say: “Slip and trip accidents increase during the Autumn and Winter season for a number of reasons: there is less daylight, leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippery and cold weather spells cause ice and snow to build up on paths.” www.hse.gov.uk/logistics/slips-trips-bad-weather.htm

Key pinch points around most business premises will be access routes for pedestrians such as ramps, car parks and walkways; as well as areas that don’t get a lot of sunlight, as this can mean frost persists throughout the day.

It’s often said that we don’t have the best track record in the UK for dealing with snow; our strained transport network is notoriously sensitive to the white stuff. Also, it simply wouldn’t be the festive season without the usual startling headlines (much like this one) as soon as we get our first blanketing.

Whilst we don’t have much control over the roads and railways, it is straightforward to keep a close eye on site safety within our own businesses. Typical combat methods including spreading grit, ice melt or salt onto outside areas, however this is often left until after the ice and snow have arrived.

The best form of attack is defence; so we really should be looking to risk assess our facilities in preparation for the weather to come. Unguarded concrete ramps, flat surfaces, wooden decking and metal steps are all ideal places for ice to form. An easy fix is non-slip grp flooring to greatly reduce the risk of slips. In an ever increasingly litigious society the up front cost pales in comparison to that of potential legal claims from injury.

Why not share this post with your Safety Officer and see what their plan is for winter?