Insurance 17 January 2017

Protect your business this winter with these safety tips

Personal injury claims against small businesses are becoming increasingly common
Here, health and safety expert Louise Hosking, director at workplace consultancy Hosking Associates, warns Business Advice readers to make sure to properly protect your business, including staff and premises, from potentially hazardous winter conditions.

Winter has arrived and with it we have already seen some hazardous conditions. It’s the time of year that businesses need to be vigilant when it comes to the increased incidence of slips and trips. Health and safety becomes even more of a concern for businesses during periods of bad weather.

Spokesperson for winter gritting and snow clearance provider, De-ice, Vicky Lopez, said recently: “It should be law for businesses to have in place a winter management programme.”

If you’re a small business owner, you need to protect your business and yourselffrom risks, such as personal injury claims, which are becoming increasingly common.

Health and safety tips for winter

All businesses should regularly check they are not exposing others to potential slip, trip or fall risks. This can be undertaken by simple walk-through checks.

Ensure your surface water drains are running freely, so areas which can pond (or flood), and therefore freeze, do not become minI ice rinks. Likewise, deal with pot holes which can have the same effect. Prioritise busy paths if resources are tight.

Ensure you clearly communicate with site users where these safe routes are. This could be via signage, notices (for example, a marked site plan), or by email depending on your organisation.

It may be relevant to close parts of your site which cannot be made safe, like exposed ramps on car parks. Again, work with your site users, tenants or residents so they are clear on what they can expect.

If your organisation needs to close, think about how you might communicate this information to your team so everyone knows as soon as possible. If roads or routes are clearly treacherous, workers should not be expected to use their vehicles again organisations need to consider a) how they communicate this, and b) how they can minimise the potential impact it will have.

If you are going to outsource gritting and snow clearing to contractors, make sure you choose the right one. Clearly scope the work they do and whether they have sufficient local resources and capabilities to deliver the service in all weather conditions.