5 winter concerns your business should be preparing for now
Even with summer barely over, and the leaves only on the cusp of turning, winter will be upon us soon. With it comes a new set of risks and problems for your business.
In order to minimise the chance of unexpected costs and potential operational threats, you should start making preparations in September and October.
To give you a hand, PHS has come up with a list of what we think are the top 5 concerns for your workplace when it comes to preparing for winter.
This is a big one: get your boiler serviced as soon as possible!
In winter your boiler is going to be getting a lot of use and, unfortunately, this means a much higher risk of it breaking down.
There is no legal minimum working environment temperature but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that the temperature be no lower than 16°C, or 13°C if much of the work is physical.
An interim solution could be an electric heater, but that could bump up your energy bills. Then repairing or replacing the boiler is going to be another big cost.
The most cost-effective solution is to get your boiler checked now to address any possible problems early and avoid future disruption.
2. Check your piping
Carrying on with the theme of plumbing, another key area that often catches both large and small businesses out is old or unprotected piping that can freeze and burst in the winter months.
Unfortunately, the most common reason for pipes freezing is when they are badly located in areas that get exposed to especially low temperatures.
One solution is to have the pipes re-routed, but if this is not practical, you can also have the pipes and areas in which they reside insulated to protect them from the cold.
Check for cracks and holes in outside walls that expose cold air to piping. If you find any, look at getting them fixed before the cold weather rolls in.
3. Keep hygiene in mind
Winter is the peak time of year for flu. On top of this, people spend longer amounts of time indoors with the heating on which can create humid environments in which germs thrive.
As such, it’s paramount to ensure your workplace is kept as hygienic as possible.
Make sure your washrooms are in good working order and cleaned regularly. Also ensure that you are stocked up with things like soap and hand sanitiser, but most of all, encourage people to use it!
4. Bits and Bobs
Make sure that all your windows and doors are in good condition and that no drafts are getting though. If you need to, re-grout windows and invest in draft-excluding fixtures for your doors. This will make a big difference in keeping cold air out and warm air in.
You should also have a contingency plan in place for staff that may be unable to get into work due to bad weather. This could mean facilitating working from home, or ensuring there are other people in the business who can fill in while they are away.
If you have any furniture obstructing radiators or heat sources, move it. And if you think heat is being lost through the wall behind a radiator, invest in some radiator reflector foil to go behind it and negate this effect.
5. Get weather proof
Bad weather also means that much more dirt and moisture is going to be brought on to your premises by people entering and leaving.
This isn’t good news, not only because it looks unsightly, but also because it’s dangerous. Wet, dirty floors are a slip hazard which could result in serious injury for both staff and customers.
Adequate matting at both entrance and exit points, along with especially high footfall areas, will dramatically reduce the amount of dirt and moisture on floors, making your workplace cleaner and safer.
If you are responsible for outside areas, you'd also do well to stock up on rock salt to reduce the chance of slips and falls, and to make sure car parks remain usable.
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