The winter months can bring with them the good and the bad for the every day business owner.
A few of the good include increased customer spending in the lead up to Christmas, peak trading time for many industries and a whole host of Bank Holidays to spend rare time with loved ones.
Whereas the bad can bring January blues and plummeting temperatures which can not only cause a drop in sales but also pose a host of physical hazards to your business.
So, how can you protect your business against the cold weather this year? Whilst we can’t help you with a potential reduction in footfall, we can help you get ready for the dropping in temperatures and do all you can to stay ‘open for business’.
How to protect your business against cold weather
- Pipes – Protect your pipes from the cold by insulating them with lagging, especially those that are in exposed, cold and draughty places.
- Heating – Though it might be tempting to save energy (and costs) by turning your heating off when you are not in the business, it is actually better to leave your heating constantly on low during cold snaps as this can prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Boiler service – When was the last time you had your boiler serviced? Now might be the time as your boiler is likely to be working hard combatting the drop in temperature.
- Repairs – Been putting off fixing that dripping tap for a while? Now is the time as even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe.
- Stop-tap – It’s vital that you know where your main stop-tap is and that it is in good working order. You might need this to shut off the water supply should one of your pipes burst.
- Weather updates – Keep an eye on the weather updates so you can prepare in good time. The Met Office provides forecasts for up to 30 days in advance by location here.
- Water usage – By taking regular meter readings, you’ll not only ensure you receive accurate billing for your usage, you’ll also be able to monitor any unexpected rise in usage which could signal you have a leak.
- Planning – As with anything in life, even the best laid plans cannot prevent issues from occurring. However, having a contingency plan in place can help resume businessas quickly as possible. Part of your plan should include having the number of an approved water safe plumber in case of an emergency.
- Communication – When running a business, you can’t possibly keep an eye on everything all at once. Ensure that your colleagues have been trained to flag any issues they spot whilst onsite.
- Cover – As we highlighted in our blog United Utilities use sniffer dog to tackle leaks, you are responsible for all leaks and any subsequent damage that occurs inside your property. Ensure you have the right insurance cover in place for this eventuality. Have you considered business insurance from our sister company The Insurance Octopus?
There are a lot of things to consider, however, good preparation now could save you considerable time and money when the temperatures drop. As a handy resource, another of our wholesalers Bristol Water has put together this easy-to-understand infographic for you to take away.
Other things to consider during cold weather
Health and Safety
As an employer, you have a duty of care to look after your employees (as per the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974). Other issues to consider when running a business during the winter months include:
- Lighting – Is there enough lighting around your workplace for your colleagues to see and avoid hazards?
- Wet and decaying leaves – Are you removing fallen leaves on a regular basis to avoid creating a slip risk?
- Rain water – Are your external paved areas slip resistant? Is your entrance set up with mats to soak up any excess water?
- Ice, frost, snow – Do you have a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface?
- Gritting – Are you gritting at the right time of day?
- Outside working – Do your staff have adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for working outside?
More detailed information on all of the above is available from the HSE here.
Driving for work
If your business involves you or your colleagues driving, take extra care during severe weather conditions. The Met Office has put together some advice on driving in various conditions here including snow and ice.
Pull on those winter woollies and start implementing these simple but vital steps to protect your business against cold weather this year.