The cold winter months can bring unique risks to businesses, from frozen and burst pipes to slippery conditions leading to liability claims. As a business owner, you need to take steps to mitigate these winter hazards to avoid property damage and legal liability.
In this blog post, I'll share practical advice on preventing frozen water systems, minimising damage if pipes do freeze, managing sprinkler systems and reducing liability from ice and snow.
Beat the Freeze: Preventing Frozen Pipes
When temperatures dip below freezing for extended periods, the water in your pipes and tanks can turn to ice, expanding and rupturing the lines. Prevent busted pipes and resultant water damage with these key steps:
Insulate all water lines and tanks with at least 25mm of high-quality, non-combustible insulation. Securely fix to prevent slipping.
Install low-temp sensors to automatically activate heat if temps drop too low.
Maintain heat on low overnight and during closures.
Drain and isolate any disused pipe systems.
Store valuables away from plumbing.
Install automatic water shut-off valves.
What To Do If Pipes Freeze
If you discover frozen pipes, don't panic. Methodically:
Isolate the affected pipes by closing valves.
Protect surrounding electrics/goods from water damage.
Apply gentle heat like hot water bottles to thaw. Don't overheat.
Once thawed, check system thoroughly for cracks before returning to service.
Special Care For Sprinkler Systems
Sprinkler systems are vulnerable too. If temperatures in your building drop below 5°C for any period of time, consider installing a "dry" or "alternate" sprinkler system charged with air instead of water. This prevents ice blockages. Insulate and heat any outdoor sprinkler components like canopies.
Reducing Slip and Fall Liability
Snowy and icy conditions significantly increase your slip and fall risks. Protect your business from liability claims with these steps:
Update risk assessments to include winter hazards.
Establish a snow/ice clearing procedure and apply salt/grit promptly.
Assess vehicle safety in poor conditions.
Provide staff appropriate outerwear and footwear.
Suspend any work at height during icy periods.
Create emergency plans for extreme weather incidents.
Stay Safe This Winter
This winter, be proactive against the unique risks freezing temperatures bring to your business. Follow these best practices to prevent pipe damage, manage sprinklers properly, and reduce liability from slip and falls. Your property and people will stay safer and warmer all season long.