Over the past four years, personal injury claims in the UK have risen by 22% – that’s according to the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions. In winter months (November to March), claims have increased by 23%. With reports suggesting wintry conditions are likely to start earlier this year, we can probably expect a further increase in the number of claims.
The law places responsibility on employers and owners or occupiers to ensure that premises are maintained in a condition that does not pose risk of injury. Anything hazardous that can be removed, such as snow and ice, must be taken off the site.
If a claim is made, then it is likely that the owner or manager will be held liable. Not only could you be at risk from injury claims, but your insurance may be compromised if you cannot prove that you made acceptable efforts to maintain your premises in a risk-free state.
But’s not just slippery pathways that you need to keep an eye on, it’s general business continuity, too. In 2010, the UK economy came to a standstill as a result of the near-arctic winter conditions. As business, schools, offices and roads shut, between £600m and £1bn was draining out of the UK economy every day according to the Federation of Small Businesses – a loss that Britain could really have done without.
The UK economy still needs all the help it can get, and winter planning is vital as the cost of the disruption it causes far outweighs the capital investment in infrastructure, planning/resource and materials needed to keep the UK operational during the winter.
Nikki Singh-Barmi is managing director of provider of winter gritting and maintenance services, Gritit.
It isn’t too late for companies to get a winter risk strategy in place. With a bit of forethought businesses can avoid disruption and financial loss before the bad weather strikes this winter. An agreed strategy needs to be implemented every time temperatures drop to zero or below.
Investing in robust risk management upfront will be more cost effective than trying to recover from a blow, whether that involves having to clear a site up after a spate of bad weather, or dealing with a possible claim.
So don’t wait for winter to arrive, act now to protect your organisation against unnecessary operational down-time, loss of business, damage to reputation and the cost (and time) of any claims made against the organisation.
Nikki Singh-Barmi is managing director at GRITIT – www.GRITIT.com