PFM 20 9 - Page 28



NEWS
health & safety
Don’t Slip Up On Safety This Winter
W
ith colder weather upon us
and
the
seemingly
constant stream of extreme
weather experienced across the
globe
over
recent
months,
businesses should be preparing
their properties for the winter
months.
David Gajda, national operations
director of ECO Integrated Property
Solutions
(ECO
IPS)
offers
maintenance advice on keeping safe,
compliant and open for business
throughout winter with tips for heating,
ventilation and cooling systems, roofs,
drainage systems and external areas.
Why you need this
By creating a robust winter
maintenance plan office managers can
ensure they meet their duty of care,
achieve compliance, manage risk,
meet insurer’s expectations and allow
business continuity.
By ignoring the relevant health and
safety legislation, you are at greater
risk of legal action. An ad hoc service
approach is no longer adequate and
increases the risk of lost revenue,
damaged reputation, accident liability
claims or shut-downs.
Duty of care
The Health and Safety at Work Act
1974 talks about the duty of care but
many managers do not realise this
extends beyond staff to anyone
visiting, or passing by the facility,
including suppliers on company
business and members of the public.
All organisations must be able to
demonstrate that they have done
everything reasonably possible to
meet their duty of care and that they
have met all health and safety
legislation.
Managing risks
Ideally, winter maintenance should be
an all-year-round job. Late spring and
early summer is the best time to review
the winter maintenance plan and
allocate budget to address jobs such
as the possibility of burst pipes, the
weight of snow on roofs and the
ingress of water.
Heating systems
Issues with heating systems are likely
to occur during the transition from
28
autumn to winter when there is a surge
from standby to maximum capacity
which can result in breakdowns and
service outages. Regular maintenance
of HVAC systems should be carried out
by qualified engineers to avoid
catastrophic failures and down-time. It is
a legal obligation for businesses to
ensure that any heating appliance and
installation pipework is maintained in a
safe condition and boilers should also
be inspected at least once a year.
Windows and doors account for
significant heat loss in winter. Check for
drafts, leaks and cracks that can allow
heated air to escape. Frozen and burst
pipes are the leading cause of property
damage from winter weather. Just a
small fracture can release many gallons
of water, damaging masonry and plaster,
carpets and other contents. Regular
detailed examination of pipes, insulation
and stop taps across the premises, with
careful attention to temperature and
water flow will help avoid cracks.
Keep on top of roofs
A thorough check of all roofing should
be made for a build-up of water, ice, or
snow that could compromise the roof’s
structural integrity.
Gutters and
downspouts should divert roof drainage
away from the building’s foundation as
when these are clogged or incorrectly
positioned, they have little or no effect.
If gutters and downspouts are not wellmaintained, blockages will occur, and
the accumulation of water will eventually
cause damage.
Lighten up
When the hours of darkness are
increased, businesses must ensure that
exterior lighting is programmed for the
change so that the building, its visitors
and occupants are kept safe.
Safe entry
Ensure access routes and car parks are
safe from the risks of ice and snow for
staff, visitors and contractors working
onsite. Implement a gritting and snow
service for entrances, walkways and car
park areas. Ideally gritting should be
done prior to ice formation or it will need
to work harder on an already frozen
surface, leaving a degree of risk present
while the salt is taking effect. In winter,
as employees and customers bring in
ice and snow on their footwear, it is
David Gajda
national operations director
ECO Integrated Property
Solutions
important to have absorbent mats in
place and regularly clean entrances
during the day so slip hazards from wet
floors are avoided.
Remember outdoors
Trees and branches should be trimmed
back to avoid any impact on roof integrity
as dead trees and branches can become
falling hazards during winter. Fallen
leaves that become wet or have started
to decay can create slip risks, hiding any
hazard that may be on a path or by
creating a slip risk themselves. Regular
leaf removal procedures should be put
in place as part of the winter
maintenance plan. Clear leaves from
pipes, gutters and drainage gullies as
part of the leaf-clearing regime.
Outsourcing
Creating
a
completely
risk-free
workplace is almost impossible.
However, a ‘belt and braces’ approach
to proactively managing the winter
maintenance plan will minimise any risk
to business. Identifying and tracking
winter maintenance issues can be
complex, especially for businesses that
host vulnerable people and those with
disabilities.
Consider whether such a specialist
service can be delivered in-house or if it
can actually be done better by an expert
third party so any risk is mitigated as far
as possible.
To read more detailed advice of
maintaining property safety during the
winter visit www.eco-ips.co.uk.
Reader Reply: 209017

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