How to protect your business against cold weather
The winter period can present a lot of challenges to business owners – none more so than extreme weather that can cause disruption to your trading and damage to your office.
Not only this, but business owners have a duty to keep their premises (including pavements, car parks and other land) clear and safe from hazards such as snow and ice. If a visitor or member of the public were to slip and injure themselves on your property, they could seek compensation by bringing a personal injury claim against you. The same applies to employees, and you could even be prosecuted under the Health and Safety at work Act 1974.
The best thing business owners can do to minimise the chances of this happening is to be prepared. Here are some easy steps you can take to keep your office disaster free this winter, and what to do if the worst does happen.
Clear and grit pathways and car parks
Ice and snow can make pavements treacherous and slip accidents are all too common. Clear paths and car parks with a snow shovel (make sure you wear appropriate footwear yourself!) and spread plenty of rock salt on the ground.
Check your boiler has been serviced
Sub-zero temperatures will put strain on your boiler by forcing it to work overtime after the warmer months. Parts often fail in winter and it’s important to keep on top of any potential issues by having an annual boiler service. This will pick up on any issues early on and make sure you and your staff don’t have to work in a cold office – not to mention a costly emergency call out fee if there was a problem. Importantly, only use a registered gas safe engineer – you can find one at www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
Ensure pipes are insulated
Burst pipe claims (often referred to as an ‘escape of water’ in insurance policies) can be hugely expensive and disruptive. There is not only the cost of repairing the pipe itself, but replastering ceilings, redecorating, replacing damaged contents (such as furniture and computers) can all result in a significant bill.
More importantly for your business, you could be left without a permanent premises until it has been sufficiently dried out and repaired, which could take months.
Insulating your pipes with foam or rubber tubes will help protect against the elements, and leaving the heating on for longer periods of time will ensure the temperature doesn’t drop too low
If the worst does happen, and you experience a frozen pipe, swtich off the water supply at the stop tap. Check to see if the pipe has burst, then open the affected tap so that water can flower through it as it is melting. Using towels soaked in hot water or a hairdryer on a low setting may help warm the pipes up, but never use naked flame to achieve this.
Check the roof
Snow can put a lot of strain on an old roof, particularly if it is in poor condition. You should consider having your roof surveyed at least once a year if you live in an old property or have experienced water leaks in the past; it can help identify problems before the cold weather begins and identify other issues, such as unstable chimneys or loose tiles.
Arrange insurance cover
While the above are all useful measures to take in protecting against the cold months, it's impossible to protect against all scenarios. Having comprehensive insurance cover in place will ensure that if something does go wrong, you won’t be left out of pocket.
- Public liability insurance can cover against slips, trips and falls suffered by third parties
- Employer’s liability insurance can cover against slips, trips and falls suffered by employees
- Buildings and contents insurance can cover against escape of water claims and damage caused by extreme weather conditions, while business interruption cover protects against any loss of income (or increased costs of working) resulting from the incident
Get a quote now to find out how little it costs to protect your business against the cold weater, or call us on 0800 640 6600 for help from our insurance experts.