Snowfall is predicted in the south east of England as forecasters expect one of the coldest weeks of this winter so far.  Snow, sleet and ice warnings have been issued as police urge motorists to drive carefully and allow extra time for journeys.

We take a look at the risks to businesses during cold weather:

  • Disruption to the travel network could be one of the biggest challenges an organisation will face.  You should ensure you have a clear severe weather travel plan, which is communicated to all employees and contractors. This plan should include guidance on when it is safe or unsafe to travel, who to contact in an emergency, and contingency measures in the event of disruption to the local travel network (e.g. home working, alternative routes etc).
  • Employers also have a statutory duty, under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Occupiers’ Liability Act, to maintain access to their work premises in a safe condition; in winter, this could mean clearing snow and ice from paths or car parks.
  • Care needs to be taken when deciding who should be responsible for clearing ice and snow and gritting paths and car parks. You should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment, and provide appropriate training and protective equipment. In order to defend public liability and employers’ liability claims, organisations must be able to demonstrate they have followed their winter weather policy, and show evidence of their inspection records and gritting plans.

Organisations have additional responsibilities to ensure the safety of employees who are required to drive as part of their role. Proper consideration needs to be given to managing the risks of accidents and injuries caused by driving in adverse weather conditions. Ensuring compliance with road traffic law is not enough – you must also comply with health and safety law, as this applies equally to on-the-road work activities as to all other work activities.

It is reported the cold snap is expected to cover Britain until next weekend.