Posted on: 28 January 2022

How to protect your business from the cold

Following a fairly mild Christmas period, according to the MET office, the UK will continue to experience an average winter with some extreme weather conditions expected across the country.

Simultaneously, this winter we still need to be vigilant because it is still possible to catch the flu given the cold weather. Continue to take precautions by keeping yourself warm, wearing a face mask in public places while maintaining a two-metre distance and regularly washing your hands. 

What could be at risk?

Severe weather can appear on the horizon, both expected and unexpectedly. Fast winds, downed trees and flooding are just some of the dangers to be aware of when protecting your company

Stock

Some stock can be vulnerable to the cold, such as fruit or veg, wood products and bottled or canned drinks, so make sure you have necessary storage facilities to maintain adequate temperatures. Further, it would be wise to place vulnerable stock on shelves to protect against flood spoilage. 

Pipe works and roofing

In cold periods, pipes have been known to burst, so make sure that you regularly have them serviced and keep hot water flowing through them. Having your roof checked can also save you problems with condensation, ice build ups and leaks. If possible, see if you can arrange a contract to have someone regularly visit your premises to inspect and maintain heating systems and roofs.

Employees

The health and safety at work law requires employers to keep temperatures at a comfortable level for their employees, to make sure that any staff can carry out their day-to-day activities.

However, in many offices, more employees are still working from home due to the COVID-19 guidelines set out by the government. So if your office is currently at a reduced occupancy it's still important to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the building. If your office is closed, you could reduce the temperature of your building to save on heating expenses but you should maintain a temperature of at least 13 degrees C. This will ensure water in pipes will remain at a constant temperature and should not get cold enough to freeze.

Customers visiting your premises or you visiting theirs

Ensure your customers feel comfortable at your business premises by ensuring your heating systems are working efficiently. They may also feel that you are caring for them and are more inclined to return for repeat business. If you visit your customers, make sure that you take extra precautions regarding social distancing and wearing a mask. 

Fleet or delivery vehicles

Colder temperatures can play havoc with your commercial vehicles. Drivers should be always aware of the day's conditions before beginning their journey. Provide them with all the tools they need to check the vehicle to cope with the weather and road conditions before starting their shift. Furthermore, businesses should safeguard the vehicle drivers by equipping them with winter driving skills, snow scraper, blanket, first-aid kit and torch. 

Preparing for ice and snow

Keep informed

Make sure to regularly check the  MET office’s cold weather alert system and other weather apps and channels.

Make a plan

Make a plan for your business and employees including procedures to follow if the freezing weather affects your business capability. The  plan should include details of your insurance, utility providers and should also account for key personnel if they are unable to get into work. Additionally, match your plan details with the government plan guidelines to avoid missing out on extra precautions. 

Avoid slips, trips and falls

You should also prepare your premises and employees for the dangers of slips, trips and falls by making sure they wear protective clothing such as hard hats and safety boots near high-risk areas. Grit walkways in the morning before the frost settles and keep floors dry and clear.

Check your boiler, pipework and roof

Make sure your boiler is in good working condition and that all pipe work is well insulated. Put the heating on a constant low level to avoid burst pipes. Heavy snowfall can also have adverse effects on weak or damaged roofing systems so make sure you get your roof checked by a professional before the cold weather sets in.

Get equipped

Invest in tools and equipment to protect your business including snow shovels and road salts or grit. For example, white salt is a quick working solution and rock salt, or grit is more economical for businesses with areas such as car parks.

During ice and snow

Protect your premises

Continue to check your premises for any damage, clear walkways, and grit car parks. More grit might need to be used for steps and slopes, so have plenty ready.  

Keep in contact

Make sure all employees are accounted for and stay connected with your customers and suppliers to let them know if any business activities have been disrupted.

Stay updated

During heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, make sure you keep updated on any weather changes through the MET weather warning system of Green (safe), Yellow (be aware), Amber (be prepared) and Red (take action).

After ice and snow

Contact your insurance company

Let your insurance company know immediately if you have any claims to make. Don’t remove any damaged items until you have spoken to your insurance provider.

Remain vigilant against ice

Keep a check of any lingering ice patches around your premises. Make sure that your premises remain safe for employees and customers.

Check local roads

If you are expecting or making deliveries, it's worth checking access via local roads. 

Protect your vehicle during snow and ice

Wiper Blades

Check your blades and make sure your wiper fluid is topped up to maintain visibility.

Lights

Your lights are more likely to get dirty or obstructed in winter weather, make sure that your fog and brake lights are clear and working before you start your journey.

Tyres

Pressure and tread should be checked regularly as properly maintained tyres will give you a better grip on the road. Furthermore, it is reported that thirty seven percent of breakdowns in electric vehicles happen due to tyre problems caused by the excess weight which is contributed by the batteries of the EV.

Water in your radiator

If you need to top up your water, make sure you use a mixture of water and anti-freeze. Additionally, make sure you use screen wash in the water to keep your windshield clear.  

Fuel

Keep your fuel tank at least half full, this will give your vehicle weight and traction and you may need it if you find yourself in queues of traffic. Electric vehicles need to be charged overnight to ensure they have sufficient battery. Plan your journey and make sure there are additional charging points towards your destination, as cold weather can reduce the performance of the battery. 

Emergency contacts

Make sure you have a list of emergency contacts in your vehicle/s.

Provisions

Make sure that you have provisions in your vehicle such as torches, de-icer, blankets and water. As for electric vehicles, they have a pre-heat function that can be used to warm and defrost the vehicle. This is the most effective method for warming up an electric vehicle that has been exposed to cold weather. More information on the Highway Code can be found on the government's website for driving in extreme weather conditions.

Business insurance

Getting the right business insurance for your business can seem like a daunting task, with the number of options available for the wide variety of businesses in the UK.

We are a specialist insurance broker with experience of arranging insurance for a range of businesses. We work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurance companies and train our staff to be insurance experts, so we can help find the perfect insurance cover for your business. Get in touch today for a quote and let us sort the rest.

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