Winter weather brings with it a myriad of challenges, particularly for facilities managers responsible for maintaining the safety and functionality of various properties. Among the key concerns during this season is the management of icy and snow-covered surfaces, which can pose significant risks to occupants and visitors. To mitigate these hazards effectively, Nik Tozer, managing director of Winter Gritting, Nurture Group argues that facilities managers must prioritise the preparation and implementation of winter gritting strategies.
The foremost reason for facilities managers to prepare for winter gritting is to guarantee the safety of all individuals accessing the premises. Icy surfaces can result in slip-and-fall accidents, potentially leading to injuries and legal liabilities. Timely and effective gritting helps to maintain walkways, entrances, parking lots, and other areas in a condition that minimises the chance of slips and falls.
Severe winter weather can also disrupt normal business operations, leading to financial losses and inconveniences for organisations. By taking proactive measures to prepare for winter gritting, downtime caused by hazardous conditions can be minimised. Well-maintained and gritted surfaces allow for the uninterrupted movement of people, goods, and services, enabling businesses to function smoothly even in challenging weather conditions. Preparedness ensures that access to critical areas, such as loading docks and emergency exits, remains unobstructed.
Freezing temperatures and excessive snowfall can cause damage to property and infrastructure. Adequate preparation for winter gritting is essential to protect the physical assets of a facility. Gritting prevents the formation of ice, which can be particularly damaging to paved surfaces, walkways, and stairs. Furthermore, it helps to minimise the accumulation of snow, preventing its weight from causing structural damage. By maintaining the integrity of property and infrastructure, costs on repairs are likewise, reduced.
The level of care and attention facilities managers demonstrate during winter conditions reflects directly on the reputation of the organisation. Visitors and stakeholders, such as clients, customers, and employees, form their impressions based on their experience with the facility. A well-prepared and gritted environment instils confidence in the organisation’s commitment to safety and professionalism. Conversely, a neglectful approach to winter maintenance can harm the reputation of the facility and the organisation as a whole.
Another vital point is that facilities managers have a legal obligation to maintain a safe environment for all individuals accessing the premises. Neglection can expose organisations to legal liabilities if accidents occur due to icy conditions. Compliance with health and safety regulations is of utmost importance to avoid potential lawsuits and fines.
In addition to comprehensive preparation, the importance of a rapid response when it comes to winter gritting must not be overlooked. Winter weather can be highly unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and unexpected snowfall. Therefore, businesses need to be prepared to mitigate the potential risks that these weather conditions bring. To ensure an effective response, various tools and resources are available, such as daily forecasts from reputable sources like the Met Office can help to accurately assess the weather situation. This allows them for the allocation of the necessary resources, equipment, and manpower to the areas that require immediate attention.
The Nurture Group exemplifies the importance of utilising daily forecasts by actively monitoring weather conditions and utilising the information provided by the Met Office to tailor our winter gritting services across multiple sites in the UK. By leveraging the expertise of meteorologists and integrating weather forecasts into our operations, we can ensure that the correct service and equipment are available at the right time and in the right locations.
Tailored services are also crucial in the context of winter gritting. Different properties and facilities have unique needs when it comes to managing icy and snow-covered surfaces. For instance, a shopping mall may require more frequent gritting due to high foot traffic, whereas a manufacturing facility might prioritise access roads and loading docks. Facilities managers should consider the specific requirements of each property and design gritting plans accordingly. By tailoring their services, they can optimise the allocation of resources and provide effective solutions that address the unique challenges of each site.
Real-time information is another valuable tool. With the help of technology, such as GPS tracking systems, operators can monitor and track the progress of gritting activities in real-time. This allows them to stay informed about the status of different areas and make timely adjustments to their plans if necessary. Real-time information enables the identification of any gaps or areas that require additional attention, ensuring that all surfaces are adequately treated and maintained to minimise risks.
Winter gritting is a crucial responsibility for all companies, considering the safety, operational continuity, property protection, reputation, and legal compliance it entails. Adequate preparation for winter weather helps to prevent accidents, maintain functionality, safeguard property, enhance reputation, and fulfil legal obligations whilst being able to respond rapidly and dynamically to changing weather also is a key area of importance
Nik Tozer is the managing director of winter gritting at the Nurture Group, a multi-award-winning national service provider.