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Avoiding a Winter of Discontent

10 February 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

As the weather for the week ahead looks set to remind us that Winter has not departed - and may actually arrive full force - Andy Simpson of Ground Control writes about seasonal maintenance.

Winter maintenance not only has a significant impact on companies’ real estates and infrastructure, it also affects staff, customers and the surrounding communities. In the UK we always get a cold snap – in a few cases severe – at some stage in the season, so there are a number of recommendations I would make to not only get ahead of the winter period, but also make sure that we are prepared for all weathers. My six winter maintenance tips include:

  1. Plan ahead, don’t leave it to the last minute

  2. Be clear about the service you need

  3. Discuss your requirements with a reputable winter maintenance organisation like Ground Control

  4. Make certain you receive the information behind the visits ‘LIVE AS IT HAPPENS’ to not only help protect you and your business, but also to ensure your operation runs smoothly. You may need this information if you ever end up in court (legal battles) from slips, trips & falls

  5. Check that your contractor provides a comprehensive service (gritting and snow clearance alongside consultancy and extensive reporting) as communication is critical when brand and reputation are at risk. A number of providers only deliver gritting, choosing to outsource snow teams on the day. If this happens, ensure the reporting is aligned and delivered to customers the same way

  6. Be happy with the results, and plan ahead for next year.

By adhering to these tips and being ahead of the game, it enables organisations like Ground Control to plan ahead as well. Customers often don’t give a thought to weather trigger points and potential access issues; gritting operations are usually carried out overnight and therefore may require keys or specialist inductions as well as health and safety requirements. Consideration must also be given to the surrounding area in terms of the roads leading into the company, the car parks and the variety of working areas including access footpaths, walkways and loading yards.

Bringing all of this information together provides proactive customers with the best possible service. However, if a customer, despite all of this, chooses a reactive only service, that customer will be in danger of losing out to those who have thought ahead. After all, winter maintenance providers will service sites that have an agreement in place first, simply due to the ability to be able to think ahead. Salt can be taken to locations close to customers’ sites ahead of time; conversations will have been completed around what will need clearing. In addition, a site recce can be completed, if required, to work out in advance what needs to happen and at what time the gritting should take place to cause the least disruption. For those with a reactive service, none of this can happen meaning these companies will be at risk of causing disruption to their own staff and customers, with the obvious potential knock on effect on the company’s finances.

In conclusion, my recommendation to any organisation is that they treat winter maintenance like any other business need; they plan ahead for it. The winter months are just around the corner, and if they are not planned for, the risks could be at best problematic, and at worst catastrophic if customers cannot access their premises for example. Don’t be reactive, be proactive to avoid a winter of discontent.

By Andy Simpson, Winter Operations Manager for Ground Control


Article written by Andy Simpson | Published 10 February 2017


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