We’ve seen three big storms hit the UK so far, with Storm Babet causing major flooding in our region, but we are only just starting to see the really cold weather start to bite. It’s important that businesses understand the problems winter can bring, and there are some common issues that can affect every one of us.
Burst or frozen pipes
Ensure your key personnel know where your stopcock is and that it works. Should the worst happen and a pipe bursts, you will need to turn off the supply quickly at the stopcock to prevent flooding and further damage. Do not use any electrics if you think these may have been affected by escaping water. If you discover a frozen pipe, don’t wait for it to burst. Turn off the water supply and gently thaw it with a hairdryer, space heater or hot water bottle.
Check your roof and gutters
Loose tiles can easily become dislodged during storms and high winds. Apart from the damage caused by falling tiles, and the danger to those that may be walking beneath, it can lead to damage to the fabric of the building. Dealing with loose or missing tiles is far cheaper than replacing roof timbers. Ensure your gutters and drain pipes are clear of leaves and other debris. If it rains heavily and the gutters overflow this can lead to water getting into the masonry.
Keeping pathways clear
You have a duty of care to ensure that any staff, suppliers or visitors to your business are safe. Unfortunately slips and trips can happen, especially when there is ice and snow on the ground. You should take actions that are ’reasonable in the circumstances’. This can include ensuring that entry and exit routes are kept clear of anything that may cause a person to slip, taking preventative measures such as clearing and gritting paths. Ensure that there is at least one safe route available to access the business as a priority, with additional paths cleared as soon as possible —don’t forget fire exits. Be especially careful and grit as required in the morning, as pathways may refreeze overnight.
Beware temporary heaters!
Some offices and work spaces can be quite chilly in the winter, especially on a Monday morning, so it’s no surprise that at this time of year we see all types of heaters brought into service to ward off the winter chills. Even in an office that’s usually warm during winter should your main heating system fail, electric convertor or fan-assisted heaters may be required as a temporary measure.
Heaters with thermostatic cut-outs that operate in the event of overheating are the best option. Electric radiant heaters and paraffin/oil fired heaters should never be used, even as a temporary measure.
Whatever type of heater is used they should be situated well clear of combustible materials and, where possible, protected against the possibility of being knocked over. Heaters should never be moved when switched on and wherever they are placed or moved to, ensure that trailing cables do not become a trip hazard.
Temporary heaters should never be left unattended for long periods or used when the building is unoccupied. Check that heaters are switched off as part of the locking-up procedure.
For further advice and assistance with any aspect of your business insurance, contact your usual Wilsons’ contact.