As winter approaches, your business will face a set of different risks which could result in significant repair and replacement costs to buildings or plant and machinery, as well as delays or interruptions. Those risks could even stop you trading altogether. It’s obviously important to carry out Health & Safety Risk Assessments to take into account these new risks.
Here are our top tips to help you manage those risks during the forthcoming winter:
1. Repairs and Maintenance
Gutters should be cleared of debris such as falling leaves and twigs. Roofs should be checked to ensure that they are in good condition. If ‘Work at Height Regulations’ come into play, then you need to follow these. If your premises have a warehouse area, it is likely that this part is not heated. As the temperature drops, shelving brackets can become brittle and break over time. Avoid sending products crashing to the ground and being damaged by maintaining and repairing shelving, pallets and storage equipment.
2. Pay attention to pipes
Regularly lag and insulate your pipes to help prevent them from freezing and bursting.
3. Concentrate on climate control
If you store certain materials and products at specific climates, check your control systems and carry out maintenance before cold weather has a chance to spoil any stock. Avoid storing stock directly on the floor – always use pallets. Also consider that some manufacturing processes may be affected by lower temperatures.
4. Protect your employees outside…
Make sure outside paths, entrances and car parks are clear of wet leaves to avoid slips and trips. As the weather turns colder and icy, these areas may need to be gritted and cleared of snow. And check your outdoor lighting for those employees arriving and leaving work in the dark.
5. …and inside
Colds, coughs and flu are all more prevalent in winter, so ensure your premises’ ambient temperature never falls below 13°C as recommended by the Health & Safety Executive in jobs which involve rigorous physical effort. Otherwise, you may use your discretion as long as the temperature is “comfortable”. Remember – if you use any additional sources to supplement your usual heating, in particular portable heating, this should be disclosed to your insurer.
6. Check your forklifts
Unpredictable weather conditions can have an impact on forklift trucks. Regular servicing will help prevent mechanical malfunctions. Put together a checklist of pre-work steps for forklift operators, including engine warming (important for the engine and hydraulics system), checks on fluid levels and lights, and stability-aiding weight blocks.
7. Provide correct clothing
Ensure staff members working in warehousing and production areas have the appropriate weather-proof clothing, gloves and headgear. When working outside, high-vis outerwear should be worn to combat reduced visibility.
Despite your best intentions, you may still suffer from a weather-related issue. To find out what insurances will help keep your business operational in those cases, and return to normal as soon as possible, please get in touch for a chat.