January has already seen yellow weather warnings issued to parts of Scotland and whilst meteorologists are, at this stage, ruling out a complete snowfall across the country – weather is notoriously hard to predict. But what we do know is that winter can bring a set of property hazards. So, what are my winter risk management tips to keep the property claims away from your business this year?
Ensure you know the layout and routes of all water, gas and electricity services within the premises. Make sure this information is recorded up to date, and available. Note down the location of all main and subsidiary isolation-valves and ensure they are fully operational. Regular exercising of the valves will ensure easier isolation.
Research in advance the details of reliable local plumbing contractors and keep their contact details in a file you can easily access.
Prevention is better than cure! So before anything happens make sure you protect your pipes and tanks. Use good quality lagging to BS6700 and repair any outstanding dripping taps & faulty ball valves as they can cause waste pipes to freeze. If you’ve got unoccupied buildings or those with a history of freezing incidents, leave the heating set at a low level. Drain all equipment that is susceptible to condensation or freezing.
Install a frost stat set at a minimum of 4ᵒC to central heating and check it is working and arrange for your premises to be inspected at least daily in periods of very cold weather.
Set a reminder to service your heating systems at least annually, ensure all boilers are safeguarded against freezing - particularly drain and condensate lines. If a boiler is idle, then drain it down.
If the worst-case happens, make sure you isolate water at the stop cock. Once that’s done, turn on cold taps to drain the system as quickly as possible and turn off the central heating. To ensure damage limitation, protect or remove any vulnerable contents or equipment that may be damaged.
Make sure you monitor the amount of snow on roofs and arrange for it to be cleared before accumulations reach unsafe levels. On occasion 'ice dams' build on the edges of roofs, especially tiled roofs by the continual thawing and refreezing of melting snow. Water may 'back up' up the roof getting under the tiles and leaking into the building. To help prevent this keep drains open and free of ice in a safe manner. If you’re unsure of how to proceed in this instance, speak to a specialist company first.
All sprinkler systems need to be set to 'winter safe'. The cold weather leaves systems that are protecting outdoor areas or cold areas (attics etc), valve chambers, and pump rooms particularly vulnerable. If you’re unsure how to do this, speak to a sprinkler contractor.
Heating should always be maintained at or above 4C. and exposed pipework should be trace heated and lagged. Ensure this is routinely inspected and maintained.
Following these steps can help mitigate the extent of risk and damage to your business. It’s my job at Bruce Stevenson to work closely with our clients to help them identify and reduce any potential risk element within their organisation.
If you've got doubts about where your business stands on risk management, then why not take our free no-obligation Risk Management Review – and I’ll get back to you. The review only takes two minutes to complete and could be the start of one of the most important conversations you have this year.
Or, if you have any further questions about how to protect your business against the elements, or any other risks, then please get in touch.