Before we get into how gritting can help your business, let’s start with a simple question, what is Gritting?
During the winter months snow and ice can cause all sorts of problems, from people falling on icy pavements, to cars sliding into each other on roads or in carparks. Gritting is a way of reducing these risks by spreading grit (rock salt) onto roads and walkways.
The grit on the roads helps to stop cars from sliding on the snow and ice, by lowering the freezing point of moisture on the road surface, and causing existing ice or snow to melt, so car tyres have better grip on the road surface. It also reduces the risk of people slipping on icy pavements. This is by melting any lying snow ice and helping to prevent any new ice from forming.
Why is Gritting important?
If you ignore then problems can quickly arise. Colder temperatures and winter conditions provide a challenge for businesses in helping to keep conditions safe for those coming to site on foot or in a vehicle.
Reports indicate that this coming winter is likely to be no exception. “UK Winter 2023-24 it has been reported is likely to be generally drier compared to previous winters and colder, increasing the risk of more snowfall events”¹.
Harsh weather conditions can lead to potential safety hazards which can put people at risk. Therefore you should put measures in place to help prevent this from happening. You are responsible for ensuring the safety of both your employees and customers, as per the Health and Safety Act 1974.
So what actions can your business put in place this winter?
Help to reduce potential injuries from slips and falls
As already mentioned, colder temperatures can create a higher risk of injury due to slips and falls from snow and ice not being cleared. If left for extended periods, snow and ice can become compacted creating a greater slip hazard. In 2016, “20,520 workplace slip & falls involving ice, sleet, or snow required at least one day away from work”.²
Slips and falls are in fact the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they cause 40% of all reported major injuries and cost employers over £500m per year. ³
Reduce potential disruption to trade
Your can have your trade interrupted if colleagues, suppliers, and customers are struggling to access your premises due to snow and icy conditions. Therefore it is important to keep your pathways, access roads clear and obstruction-free.
Overall, people in the United Kingdom spent about £20bn on Christmas in the year 2022.⁴ A huge figure which helps to show the importance of ensuring your business can function properly during the winter period. Both online and physical sales could be at serious risk if delivery drivers, customers, employees and suppliers can’t access your premises safely.
Help to prevent vehicle accidents near your business
Driving becomes harder in wintery conditions leading to more serious accidents. According to a study carried out by car insurer Admiral⁵ the most car insurance claims happen in the months of November, December and January. When the weather changes, road conditions worsen, and some drivers won’t be prepared for bad weather or don’t listen to warnings.
According to a study carried out by car insurer Admiral ⁵ the most car insurance claims happen in the months of November, December and January.
In a recent study, 33% of claims between November and February were for severe accidents. ⁵ A severe accident means the cars involved are so badly damaged that they can’t be driven.
Drivers can reduce the risks posed by driving in icy or snowy conditions by:
- Choosing the right tyres – winter tyres are specially designed to provide better traction during the winter months.
- Driving cautiously – giving themselves extra time to reach their destination.
- Maintaining a safe driving distance – when driving on snow and ice, it takes longer to stop a vehicle. Therefore, it is essential you keep a significant distance between the vehicle being driven and the one in front.
How you can reduce the hazards caused by the winter weather
Whether it’s snow or ice, we know the winter weather can cause mayhem for cars and pedestrians, but by being prepared and having a gritting programme in place you can significantly reduce the hazards caused by winter conditions.
- Keep access routes clear – remove snow and ice from access routes such as walkways, entrance areas, car park areas and stairwells.
- Use grit/salt regularly – to stop ice from forming and to help ensure the ground/surface doesn’t freeze.
- Do not use boiling water to melt ice or snow – this could cause a greater hazard for pedestrians or drivers in the area, as in very cold temperatures the water will cool quickly and turn into ice.
- Use signs and barriers – so colleagues, customers and visitors, know the safest access points/routes onto your site.
- Stay safe when clearing snow and ice – by ensuring you wear the correct PPE as well as using the right equipment for the job.
With data indicating that there is likely to be snow this winter,⁶ be sure to put your plans for cold weather in place now. If you choose to use a professional gritting company, it is important to look at the type of services they offer, so you can choose the best one for your business. Do they undertake weather monitoring (which means they will automatically grit when temperatures are predicted to drop below a certain level), and do they offer a pay-per-visit option?
Please stay safe this winter. If you require any help or support during the winter season contact us!