Are you winter ready? Don’t leave your winter maintenance plans to the last minute
Our advice couldn’t be simpler: don’t wait until it gets cold before booking your winter maintenance. Outside of the winter months it is easy to forget that all too soon the weather will turn, and freezing temperatures and winter gritting will suddenly become a pressing issue. As we look ahead to this seasonal change, protecting employees and the public people from the risks of slips and falls in icy conditions is an incredibly serious responsibility for facilities management functions.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) around five million days are lost each year through workplace injuries, with slips, trips and falls making up more than half of all reported major/specified injuries and almost 29% over seven-day injuries. This costs the UK economy billions of pounds.
Ultimately winter maintenance should be an all-year-round job: late spring and early summer are actually the ideal times to review your winter maintenance plan.
Start preparing your winter maintenance plans today
There is no time like the present to start preparing your winter maintenance plans. Ultimately winter maintenance should be an all-year-round job: late spring and early summer are actually the ideal times to review your winter maintenance plan using up-to-date information, and drawing on experience from the previous winter whilst it is still fresh, to resolve any issues, explore new initiatives and allocate budget to improve the plan going forward for the coming winter.
Meeting your Duty of Care and avoiding liabilities
So how ready should your organisation be? The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that an employer has a Duty of Care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees, including the provision of a safe working environment. This Duty of Care also extends beyond staff to anyone visiting, or passing by a site, including suppliers and members of the public.
A winter maintenance plan
A robust winter maintenance plan, embedded into an organisation’s health and safety policy, can help to ensure that an organisation meets its Duty of Care, achieves compliance, manages risk, and meets the insurer’s expectations. Your adverse weather policy should clearly communicate how your organisation and any winter maintenance contractors will manage/take action in extreme weather situations. Key aspects of any effective plan include:
- Use of a recognised health and safety management system such as OHSAS1800115 to ensure the plan is fit for purpose
- Clearly defined and communicated responsibilities – both on the ground and with a senior ‘champion’ to ensure high-level management buy-in
- A process for documenting the proactive actions, incidents and investigations undertaken with records maintained and kept for a minimum of three years
- Ensuring the plan is based on detailed surveys to identify hazard areas and that action is undertaken according to real-time accurate weather data and agreed action triggers for service
- Adequate resourcing with a dedicated trained team, sufficient and well-maintained PPE
- Clearly defined KPIs to measure performance against and a process to review the plan and any KPIs regularly (at least bi-annually).
Keep your customers safe and book your winter maintenance
Our advice couldn’t be simpler: don’t wait until it gets cold before booking your winter services.
To find out how we can work together, or to obtain a free winter gritting quote or site inspection, please contact us today.
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With over two decades of expertise in winter gritting, OUTCO’s operational team has more experience than any other winter services provider in the UK