Cold weather carries a variety of risks for people and all businesses have a duty of care to ensure the safety of everyone on their premises. Keeping your business premises safe is not an option but a primary responsibility. If you run a business in a region where temperatures fall close to or below zero, you face additional risks that need to be addressed.
Read on to discover the most common risks businesses face in cold weather, along with important tips to ensure the safety of your staff and visitors.
1. Slippery Pathways
The risk of slips and falls increases in frosty and snowy weather. This is not only dangerous for pedestrians, but also vehicles circulating on your site. These trips and slips can cause back injuries and even broken bones, so it’s important to take action to avoid slippery pathways.
- After a heavy snowfall, conventional shovels do not suffice. Even snowblowers can fail to effectively blow away the ice. Prepare for extreme weather conditions by keeping a supply of ice melts and sand on hand throughout winter to make steps and sidewalks safe to walk on.
- Repair handrails and outdoor steps before winter sets in.
- Use water-absorbing high friction (non-slip) floor mats inside entry points.
2. Frost and Ice
Frosty and icy surfaces can be dangerous, and this includes hazards to vehicles inside car parks, driveways, and outside your premises. Drivers should be educated on how to deal with icy roads, but there are also some steps you can take to maintain a safe environment.
- Rock salt is arguably the best grit for snowy and icy roads and pathways. This economical solution stops frost from forming, therefore minimizing the risk of vehicle accidents. Rock salt does not let snow take hold because the salt stops it from freezing because salt’s freezing point is lower than that of water. However, this solution is most effective when the temperature stays above -5oC and it is less effective when the temperature drops under -10oC.
- Brown rock salt is inexpensive because it is not refined. This type of rock salt has a low carbon concentration and it may contain impurities including dirt that can leave stubborn stains.
- White rock salt is more expensive but also more effective because it is refined and does not contains impurities. It is most suitable for business premises as it does not leave behind stains, so saves you the additional cost of cleaning the pathways.
3. Power Shutdown
Power failure can occur during extreme weather conditions, especially in winter. These blackouts can lead to lost productivity and extreme frustration among not only employees but also your customers.
- Universal Power Supply is a must but these systems are only suitable for homes and very small businesses. If your business occupies a relatively large area, it is better to install a generator.
- Make sure you have trained generator operators on site to quickly recover the power supply.
- Unskilled generator operators can lead to new dangers such as carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper operation of the generator.
4. Building Damage
Wind often picks up in cold weather, and high winds can cause damage to your building, assets and equipment. Likewise, other extreme winter conditions may damage your property if you don’t deal with issues in a timely manner.
- Inspect the roof for damaged and weakened tiles or shingles.
- Remove debris from gutters.
- Blow off debris and leaves from the roof if you have a flat roof.
5. Insufficient Insurance
We expect certain types of weather conditions, but Mother Nature loves surprising us, and not always for the better. You must carefully select an insurance plan that will give you sufficient coverage. Many business owners do not look into their insurance in enough detail before signing up and may get a nasty surprise when they try to make a claim only to find out that they’re not covered.
- Consult multiple insurance agents and make sure you get all of the details by doing your research and asking plenty of questions. Gather all the information and compare different policies to find the most suitable one for you.
- Keep reviewing your insurance policy: check in at least once a year to make sure your policy hasn’t changed and examine other options.
Nature is unpredictable so it is essential to be prepared for all eventualities. Extreme weather conditions, especially cold weather, can lead to a range of risks to your business, property, and the people under your care. In addition to preparing for the expected, it is important to think out of the box by anticipating new potential issues. Taking a few steps in advance, staying flexible and responding to developing situations will allow you to tackle any issue or crisis the best you can.