Does your Construction Company Have a Winter Maintenance Plan?
We all moan about the weather here in the UK – it’s a national pastime for us as we suffer rainy summers and winters with hardly a flake of snow falling. However, the UK climate has changed in recent years and become increasingly unpredictable, leading to widespread problems like flooding that leave the authorities and the population in a bit of a pickle as they struggle to cope. The mild winters we’ve had over the past couple of years may have led to many of us becoming complacent about winter maintenance plans. We forget just how harsh the winter of 2012 – 2013 was with schools and businesses closing across the land and public transport and airports grinding to a halt. We’ve already given our readers some advice on how to keep warm when working outside on construction sites in the winter, so today we’re taking a look at winter maintenance plans.
Many businesses have a fairly laid back approach when it comes to winter maintenance but statistics show that between 2009 and 2015, there were more than 600 employer liability claims caused by ice or snow, with 77% of those claims resulting in damages paid to the tune of nearly £7 million.
Snow clearance and gritting are often added on to the usual day to day operations and carried out by the in-house site management team without any additional training being provided. However, a proactive approach and a robust winter maintenance plan will demonstrate that everything is being done in order to meet the Duty of Care to employers, visitors and passers-by and ensure that your business is meeting legal and regulatory compliance.
Many organisations will assume that the processes they already have in place are adequate, but nowadays it’s essential to prepare early, review your winter maintenance plan and processes to ensure that the arrangements and policies that you have are adequate. You’ll need to carry out site surveys, risk assessments and method statements, which is particularly important if you have a complex or multiple sites. Failing to ensure that you have an effective winter maintenance plan in place could result in an accident liability case being indefensible which will have huge implications for your business insurance.
Nowadays, many companies choose to outsource their winter maintenance plan to a specialist winter service provider that would also co-defend and mitigate losses from any future claims. When you consider the real cost of the resources necessary (vehicles, fuel, equipment, insurances, policies, salt, staff training, weather forecasting, etc.) for a winter maintenance plan, the cost of outsourcing begins to look like the most sensible option.
You’ll need to choose a trustworthy outsourcing partner for this – a service provider who can support risk and provide a fully documented audit trail of information which can be used as evidence to support you in court and ensure that a claim is dismissed. Next week, we’ll take a look at just what you should be looking for when choosing a winter maintenance plan provider in order to meet the Duty of Care and manage risks effectively.