Maxwell Stephens

How to Create a Winter Risk Management Plan

prepare for winter

The weather in the UK is unpredictable, with 2016 bringing one of the coldest winters in history. The infrastructure is broadly speaking not designed to manage such extremes in temperature, with the transport networks particularly suffering. Businesses can’t afford to be complacent as being unable to operate due to the weather can cause loss of sales and reputational damage. Given the erratic conditions, it is imperative that organisations are well prepared for the various eventualities.


The BIFM recommend the use of a Winter Risk Management Plan which will often be constructed by the Facilities Management team. Of concern, the BIFM and GRITIT (winter maintenance experts) found via research that 30% fail to plan for the winter season even though UK Plc’s lost £318million in 2012 due to business closures as a result of the snow. Further to the cost of closures, snow tends to cause an increase in the number of workplace accidents (2919 were hospitalised in 2015). Of course accidents can lead to further reputational damage and potential liability claims – both of which businesses and their insurers are key to avoid.


Constructing a Winter Risk Management Plan


The first thing to note is the plan should form part of the wider health and safety policy and be integrated appropriately with associated requirements. The plan should include as a minimum:


  • A clear process for winter maintenance
  • Responsibility for specific tasks assigned to individuals
  • Site specifications including identification of hazardous areas, gritting instructions, risk assessments and method statements as required
  • Statement of how the plan will be monitored and kept up to date
  • How performance under the plan will be measured and reported (typically via key performance indicators and a scorecard)
  • Detailed plans for winter vehicle and equipment maintenance
  • Procurement plans for clearance equipment, grit bins and salt
  • Communication plan to ensure all relevant stakeholders are aware of the procedures

A Checklist


Once the plan is constructed, there are a few more things to do:


  • Send the plan to the insurer or broker to ensure all areas they would expect to see are indeed covered. Furthermore, it may also bring premiums down.
  • In the event an accident does occur as a result of wintry conditions, a full accident investigation should be conducted, including a root cause analysis. This is also important as it may highlight weaknesses in the plan that can be corrected.
  • Keep records of the risk management plan being delivered.

In Summary


Some FMs self-deliver their plan and others decide to outsource it to a third party organisation. The important thing to keep in mind when outsourcing is that the supplier has appropriate accreditations such as ISO to prove their credibility. Furthermore, there should be a robust contract in place to ensure they deliver on the commitments you have made in the plan, such as performance indicators.



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