Minimise slips and falls this winter

With winter officially upon us it’s worth talking to your fellow leaseholders about the benefits of gritting your communal areas.

If you don’t have a policy in place, it might be worth considering one.  Statistics show that falls and trips increase during the winter, reflected in the increased number of breaks and sprains presented at hospital A&E departments.

As a freeholder or director of an RMC company, you have a duty of care so it’s worth thinking about how you can protect yourselves and your visitors from the hazards of a freezing winter, no matter how big the site.

Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations (1992) says: “Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice which may involve gritting, snow clearing and closure of some routes, particularly outside stairs, ladders and walkways on roofs.”*

Outsourcing the clearance of snow and ice to a professional contractor is usually best practice and especially recommended if heavy snowfall is forecast. Ideally, pick a company with adequate kit – snow ploughs and grit spreaders are ideal for large areas.  If you decide to tackle the job in-house, make sure you have a proper plan of action and a list of who is responsible for doing what.

Keeping a decent supply of rock salt and clearance equipment isn’t usually high on our list of priorities, especially in the UK where our winters can be mild compared to many of our European neighbours. But as we all know too well, when it goes wrong, snow can bring the whole country to a halt.

Check out our top tips to help you keep your community safe this winter:   

  • Wear adequate clothing and footwear at all times before clearing.
  • Identifying priority areas. Paths and areas where cars and pedestrians merge should be a priority, and don’t forget fire escape exit routes.
  • Give extra attention to slopes, steps and changes in level at the property.
  • If required, provide adequate signage or barriers to direct pedestrians safely out of danger, especially if snowfall is heavy and covers road markings.
  • Rock salt isn’t an instant fix against ice. It requires time to grind into the surface, so leave plenty of time for it to work efficiently.
  • Best practice suggests gritting twice a day: early in the morning and in the early evening, and certainly before temperatures drop and before ice can form. If it has snowed, put salt over the first layer of snow.
  • Consider any potential slip hazards from melting snow and ice, which can also easily be walked into building entrances. Fitting a canopy over the entrance can help reduce the amount of sludge and water heading into the building.  Less permanent solutions include placing non-slip mats inside the door – or even a good old fashioned mop and bucket.  It might also be worth investing in a simple ‘A’ frame slippery surface sign available from many DIY stores.

* http://www.hse.gov.uk/