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Keeping Commercial Buildings and Grounds Safe in Storms

Keeping Commercial Buildings and Grounds Safe in Storms
31 January 2024 | Updated 01 February 2024

With the UK already having faced ten named storms in the 2023-24 storm season, the most since 2015, how can facilities managers keep business premises and grounds safe in extreme weather?

In this Opinion piece, Mauro Ortelli from 14forty outlines his tips to help businesses keep their property and grounds safe in snow, floods and wind.

Mauro is the Managing Director at integrated facilities management provider 14forty. He specialises in facilities outsourcing and sub-contractor management.

Each year, winter storms are named in alphabetical order. This time, Storm Agnes arrived as early as September with Storm Jocelyn the most recent – only the second time the letter J has been reached since 2015.

Already, heading into February, the country has been hit by snow, floods and wind gusts of over 90 miles an hour, with the potential for more to come.

So, businesses are being urged to consider how to mitigate the damage and keep employees safe. Facilities managers have a lot on their plate in the winter months, but it is often simple measures - and good planning - which help protect buildings and those who use them.

With climate change continuing to impact weather patterns, businesses and facilities managers need to have plans in place. It is not only homes which are impacted by snow but also offices, factories and warehouses. Prompt action is key to help keep people, buildings and grounds safe.

Here are 14forty’s top six tips to consider:


1. Prepare the Landscape


Keeping roads and pedestrian pathways clear and safe to use is a priority, so identify your key access areas in advance and have a "snow plan" in place. It’s important to brief the team charged with clearing snow. When shovelling, for instance, store snow out of the way of pedestrians and vehicles to avoid anyone slipping on ice that forms.

To protect the grass beneath, try to shovel snow off grassy areas as well, and into bays that can be picked up by a snowplough. Remember that leaves as well as ice are slip hazards. Grit key areas, such as pathways, access roads and car parks, in advance.


2. Use Mats When Stepping Inside


 Employees bringing snow into the building can also be a hazard. Keep indoor rooms clean and dry by adding rubberised mats to each outside doorway. Encourage visitors to wipe their feet before stepping inside so any mud and slush is removed and not spread around. This eliminates slipping hazards and keeps flooring clean for longer.


3. Check the Insulation and Plumbing


A well-insulated building will ensure employees can still come to work in wintry weather – while saving money on energy bills. Stop pipes from freezing by adding sleeves, heat tape, or heat cables, especially to those in low-insulated areas.


4. Prepare for Outages


Perform regular maintenance checks on generators and ensure fuel stocks are sufficient. Check that all emergency lightbulbs are working. When a storm hits and a power outage is evident, the building can still be safe to use if the emergency lighting and generators work.


5. Keep Equipment in Order


Ensure all equipment on site is serviced and inspected regularly so that it works when the cold weather hits. A good FM provider can offer preventative maintenance, keeping machinery, boilers, and electrical items in good order. Outdoor lighting is also important during the winter months when darkness begins early, so ensure all lighting is functioning well and make regular checks.


6. Window Repairs


Windows that don’t shut properly can be a big problem when storms hit and wind gusts wreak havoc. Ensure all window locks are in order and that double glazing is in good condition.

Picture: a photograph of a person digging a clear path in snowy conditions with a shovl.The image shows the person from the waist down. Image Credit: 

Article written by Mauro Ortelli | Published 31 January 2024


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