Posted on: 19 November 2015 (updated on 14 January)
In November 2018, The Weather Company found in their long range predictions that January and February would experience lower than usual temperatures, following a mild December.
Following a fairly mild Christmas period, January 2019 brought yellow weather warnings across the UK, to the Midlands, London and parts of the North West, so whilst we associate the Christmas period with the cold, it is important to stay vigilant in January and February.
What could be at risk?
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 adequate storage facilities to keep any products at adequate temperatures.
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.
The health and safety at work law requires employers to keep temperatures at a comfortable level for their employees, so make sure that any staff can carry out their day to day activities. Keeping your heating systems working in winter will help keep them warm, but you could also provide uniform items, such as coats, to help in the colder months.
Customers visiting your premises or you visiting theirs
Keeping customers comfortable at your business means they will feel more comfortable. They may also feel that you are caring for them, and be more inclined to return for repeat business. If you visit your customers, make sure that you take extra items of clothing in case their premises aren’t heated.
Fleet or delivery vehicles
Colder temperatures can play havoc with your commercial vehicles. It has been known to affect your tyres, battery, fluids and wiper blades. Using your heating will also decrease your vehicle’s efficiency, so you can expect to use more fuel in the winter months.
Preparing for ice and snow
Make sure you regularly check the MET office and other weather apps and channels.
Make a plan
Make a plan for your business and employees for 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.
Avoid slips, trips and falls
You should also prepare your premises and employees for the dangers of slips, trips and falls. Grit walkways and keep floors dry and clear.
Check your boiler, pipework and roof
Make sure your boiler is in a 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 before the cold weather sets in.
Invest in tools and equipment to protect your business including snow shovels and road salts. 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.
Keep in contact
Make sure all employees are accounted for and keep in contact with your customers and suppliers to let them know if any business activities have been disrupted.
During heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, make sure you keep updated on any weather changes.
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 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 its worth checking access via local roads.
Protect your vehicle during snow and ice
Check your blades and make sure your wiper fluid is topped up to maintain visibility.
Your lights are more likely to get dirty or obstructed in winter weather, make sure that they are clear and working before you go out.
Pressure and tread should be checked regularly as properly maintained tyres will give you better grip on the road.
If you need to top up your water, make sure you use anti-freeze.
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.
Make sure you have a list of emergency contacts in your vehicle/s.
Make sure that you have provisions in your vehicle such as torches, de-icer, blankets and water.
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