Winter is probably the busiest time of year for most facilities teams. Between the rain, snow, ice, and cold, there are opportunities (read “annoyances”) around every corner.
As facilities managers we know how to handle nearly everything. This article is to serve as a refresher for those who might have forgotten what winter can bring while they were basking in the sunshine and glory of a relaxing summer.
Summer’s heat has its own opportunities, but it rarely makes our walkways deadly, our roofs collapse, our pipes burst or our gutters to block. Of course, winter has all of these possibilities and more. The Duty of Care that’s laid out at our door makes it more than simply a rhetorical concept. The Act makes it a legal imperative that can lead to fines for neglect.
Liability is a significant driving factor for many businesses. The idea that they might find themselves paying compensation of several hundred thousand pounds is a powerful motivator, particularly in the Boardroom. Judgments are also accompanied by negative press that no organisation wants.
More important we are protecting our colleagues, customers, and friends from harm. During the summer, we are simply making people more comfortable, but the hazards of winter can cause pain, suffering, and even death. It is caring for our fellow man that motivates most facilities managers to do their very best.
When to Begin Preparing
Most facilities managers and their teams will be thinking about winter preparations throughout the year. The best time to start is right now. The early autumn is a perfect time to begin preparations in earnest. Below is our checklist to keep you on track this winter.
- Roofs – All roofs should be inspected. This can be done, not just from the ground, but also from on the roof. The days of needing to climb onto the roof are fading. A drone will give you some excellent HD video of your roofs that you can use to look for problem areas. You might need to climb up there for those areas that seem a problem, but, at least, you won’t need to climb all over the whole roof.
- Flat roofs – these can take a beating in the winter. They tend to require more maintenance. In this case, you will want to walk the whole roof, but it’s much easier. Roof members and seams should be closely inspected to make sure that there are no compromised areas.
- Snow Removal – it’s also good time to consider how snow and ice removal will happen. Over the course of the year, the grounds around the building may have changed. You will want to consider where snow can be pushed to and what days and times will be safest. Make sure you have a plan in place to ensure car parks are cleared before employees start arriving.
- Gutters – Inspecting gutters might need to happen several times over the course of the autumn and winter. Leaves and debris that collect in the gutters can be problematic when the snow flies. After a heavy snow and thaw, you will want to make sure that the gutters haven’t gotten clogged with ice dams.
- Foundations – All of the building foundations should be walked. This can seem like a massive undertaking if you have several large buildings, but it will save you a lot of pain later. Look for signs of moisture, leakage, mold, and cracks. A torch and a few hours and your team came make sure everything is good. Obviously any compromised spots should be handled immediately; the moisture in the foundation, as it freezes will destroy the concrete and blocks.
- Equipment & Assets – You will want to make sure that all of your machinery and equipment is serviced. Cold weather tests electrical equipment to the limit, prevention is better than cure and you definitely want your boiler full functioning, cold staff are unhappy staff!
- Gritting – Make sure that you a gritting plan in place. Unless you have a very dedicated team that are prepared to get up in the wee small hours you are best to get organize a contractor to come out and grit, trigged by road temperatures of 0 degrees or lower. Then you can rest easy in your bed, safe in the knowledge that your car parks and pavements are prepared for your staff’s arrival the next morning.
- Ground Maintenance – leaves and overgrown branches can create slip hazards and dangers to pedestrians. Ensure you have a regular grounds maintenance programme in place.
No checklist is ever complete, but we offer this list to get you started with your cold weather preparations.
At MAR Services, we’re specialists in facilities maintenance. When winter arrives, we can be the ally that you need. When a storm hits, the MAR Services team can make certain that your facilities are safe and well-prepared. Please call us at 0800 975 7217or email email@example.com