FMJ.CO.UK WINTER PREPARATION FOCUS
PETER FANE, FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF GROUNDS
MAINTENANCE SPECIALIST NURTURE LANDSCAPES, WARNS
FMS TO START PLANNING NOW FOR MANAGING ICE AND SNOW
All site managers have a responsibility to protect sta and visitors from accidents
and risk. Education on the importance of, for example, suitable footwear and
clothing is one step to keep them safe, as is placing warning signs in areas known
to be a ected by ice.
jet stream, which is at the heart of so much of our weather and its dramatic
SEPTEMBER 2019 37
Using in-house personnel to keep thoroughfares and pathways clear comes at
a cost and some risk to public and employer liabilities. Sta may not be
adequately trained in how to work safely in wintry conditions, and in many cases
work longer hours to incorporate the additional pressures of clearing pathways
on top of their daily work duties – putting safety at greater risk.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE FORECAST
It may sound obvious, but one of the simplest procedures for making sure
you’re prepared for winter’s worst is close observation of weather forecasts.
There are forecasts available which are more accurate, detailed and reliable
than TV forecasts for our line of work.
Use the Met O ice’s Open Road forecast, for example, to track weather
changes and address susceptible areas. The road surface temperature forecast,
for instance, is useful for assessing vulnerable surfaces across the UK and
putting plans in place.
Remember that the weather can change, o en suddenly and without
warning. Combining alert systems with protection plans allows you to respond
in a timely fashion to the changeable British weather.
ASSESS AREAS AT RISK
Now is the time to review the characteristics of your estate and its
vulnerabilities. For example, mezzanine car parks are especially prone to ice
accumulation as the air temperature is o en colder than that at ground level.
Think of the frost on your car – it can form on your windscreen even if the
ground around your tyres is clear.
Due to the heat sink, the ground retains heat from the summer and then
gradually begins releasing it back into the atmosphere. For mezzanine areas
above this warmer zone, any moisture on the surface will be more likely to
freeze due to reduced heat retention.
Other areas that require special attention include walkways in constant use
and metal-plated steps. Draw up an action plan so that you are ready to
implement safety measures the moment bad weather is forecast.
STOCK UP ON SALT
It’s vital that you maintain adequate supplies of salt and ensure that your
current stocks meet your site’s requirements, especially in areas where there is
high footfall. Get into the habit of checking salt levels periodically.
Of course, there’s no point in having a full supply of grit if nobody can access
it safely. Make sure your bins are in easy to reach locations, with su icient
provision for areas such as fire escapes and car parks. Your procedures should
also take into account the availability of personnel and the best times to carry
It’s important to note that there are di erent types of de-icing product.
White Marine Salt, the industry-standard natural mineral for gritting, has its
limitations, especially in deeper snowfall and extremely cold conditions. It
can also be too corrosive for certain surfaces, such as those containing iron.
However, the alternatives are o en considerably more expensive – five to 15
times more in some cases – which makes them too costly to use across a
TIMING IS IMPORTANT
A mistake many property owners make is gritting a er ice or snow has
already begun to form, rather than before. Grit is only preventative – it’s not
a miracle cure.
Salt, when applied to the site prior to freezing conditions, essentially inhibits
the formation of ice. Gritting surfaces already showing ice accumulation means
the salt has to work much harder to react e ectively and clear the ice. If snow
falls, the salt already on the ground will inhibit some accumulations, or will aid
snow removal by creating a saline barrier between the snow and the surface.
Ideally, all gritting should be carried out during the evening or overnight.
This gives the salt a chance to work before people begin to arrive.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
More o en than not, the UK is well prepared for winter. Where we o en
struggle, however, is in reacting to extreme variations in our weather. As
an island nation, we are at the mercy of the elements, and in particular the
Locally, your site is just as susceptible. A sudden drop in temperature can
result in standing water from thawed ice or, conversely, puddles freezing over.
This is why it’s important to be prepared at all times.