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Protect your business from snow, bad weather and the big freeze

Updated: Jan 5

You can’t do much about the weather this winter, but you can ensure that you take the necessary steps to protect against the effects on business, which can be significant. Early action can pay dividends in the event that this winter turns out to be more severe than expected.

Plan ahead

To reduce the risk of business operations being interrupted by wintry weather, consider these actions:

  • Agree alternative working patterns in advance; which employees can work from home and who can provide cover at short notice. Employees will still need to follow the usual procedures outlined in the absence policy if they can’t get to work due to snow or other bad weather

  • Have a snow plan in place. This plan may include:

  • a list of important contacts, including building services, suppliers and evacuation contacts for staff;

  • a description or map showing locations of key equipment and service shut-off points;

  • basic strategies for protecting property, preventing business disruption and assisting recovery;

  • checklists of procedures that can be quickly accessed by staff.

  • Check the news and other sources of information for weather warnings. This will give you time to prepare. The Met Office offers email alerts for severe weather warnings

  • Decide if you need emergency power generators. Some business equipment, like fridges and freezers may need a constant power supply. Petrol and diesel driven generators should not be used inside as they can produce poisonous levels of carbon monoxide. Ensure there is good ventilation if you use portable indoor heaters to heat or dry out indoor spaces

  • Prepare staff for what to do in snowy weather. This may form part of their health and safety training

Protect buildings and assets

Ahead of any predicted snowy, freezing or bad weather, check the exterior of the property for anything that may be at risk of snow or ice damage. You should:

  • fix any gaps, bubbles or cracks in the roof. Also, you should know the weight limit for the roof because if too much snow or ice collects, it might cause sagging or cracks

  • clear drains and gutters to reduce the risk of them clogging and the building flooding

  • prune large trees or shrubs so leaves don’t get stuck in gutters

  • close all windows and doors to prevent snow and rain getting in

Vehicles should be stored inside a garage or building where possible. If this is not possible, think about what else might damage them and try and reduce the risk. For example, trees, lampposts or power lines could fall under the weight of snow or because of high winds.

Check your insurance

Do you have adequate insurance in place in case your business is affected by heavy snowfall or ice? Building and contents insurance will cover your premises if they are damaged. Business interruption cover can make up for lost income if you have to be away from the site while repairs take place.

After snowy, freezing and bad weather

Cold temperatures can lead to burst or frozen water pipes. After snowy weather or a cold snap, you should check for broken water pipes. You may need to turn off the water supply until a professional can effect repairs.

Call a professional if you notice any power lines are damaged or if you have a power cut.

You should also amend your snow plan or any relevant policies if an incident highlights areas that could be improved.