Severe Weather Set to Hit the UK: How to Manage and Reduce Risk
Storm force winds, heavy rain and flooding are forecast for the coming few days, with the Met Office issuing a series of yellow weather warnings from Saturday night until Tuesday, as the UK braces itself for the impacts of severe weather.
The S2 Partnership’s specialist risk management consultants have compiled some key advice below to help manage and reduce risk associated with severe weather, to protect people, properties and the environment.
Ahead of the storms this weekend, it is advisable to:
- Check all emergency procedures are up-to-date in case a quick reaction is required in response to fire, flood or other emergencies.
- Carry out a full site check to remove any loose items (especially from roofs and other exposed areas) which could potentially cause injury or damage during a storm.
- Ensure that all windows and doors are secured shut, as high winds or rain could damage openings and result in water ingress.
- If relevant, a site check should also incorporate any trees or landscaping which may become dislodged in high winds and pose a potential risk.
- Undertake a review of contractors due to be on site during severe weather as alternative plans may be required if the work being carried out could be affected by such conditions. Extra care and attention must be taken if contractors are carrying out works in inclement conditions.
- Notify any tenants of the measures to be taken so that their demised areas are also protected from the weather.
During severe weather
Once severe weather takes hold, some additional steps should be taken to mitigate increased risks to people and buildings:
- Access to Exposed Areas: Roof access may need to be prevented or restricted during high winds, and preparations or alternative access arrangements may need to be made.
- Travel: It may be advisable to suspend and prevent any non-essential travel.
- Snow & Ice: Those in charge of sites have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of those on their properties. Some areas particularly prone to being affected by snow and ice include building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways and shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet. It is important to identify outdoor areas used by pedestrians and vehicles; assess the risks; monitor weather forecasts and take action whenever freezing temperatures or snow are expected. Procedures should be in place to prevent slippery surfaces forming or to warn pedestrians and drivers of any such hazards. Redirect pedestrians to less slippery walkways and separate off existing ones with a barrier. The most common method used to de-ice surfaces is gritting, and gritting plans should be in place wherever your risk assessment has identified high risk areas. Assess the risks at your site from any icicles hanging over pavements, roads or parking areas, as these can also pose a threat to pedestrians and vehicles.
- Slippery Surfaces: The accumulation of wet or decaying leaves on pathways can increase the chances of slips, as they cover any hazard that may be on the path and because they themselves create a slip risk. Ensure a procedure is in place for removing leaves at regular intervals. An additional source of slip hazards is algae or moss growth, which may not be a problem in summer, but can be when continually wet conditions prevail.
- During wet weather, slip risks are also a particular hazard at entrances to buildings and shopping centres. A simple slip test can help review the slip resistance of flooring and ascertain what additional measures should be taken to prevent slip accidents.
- Fire Risk: In severe weather, as smokers tend to congregate nearer to the buildings for shelter, so fire risk can increase. Check that all fire emergency exits, and the paths from them, are clear.
After the event
Once any severe weather has subsided and it is deemed safe to do so, the following actions should be taken:
- A full site check should be undertaken to assess any damage to buildings, landscaping or street furniture which may pose a risk. If any damage is suspected or identified, you may need to appoint a structural surveyor to inspect the areas to determine the extent of the damage
- Any remedial actions should be planned, recorded and implemented – with controls put in place immediately and repairs scheduled as soon as possible.
It may also be prudent to prepare an emergency procedure specifically relating to severe weather scenarios if this is not already available.
The following websites are provided to help monitor changing weather conditions for your local area:
How the S2 Partnership can help
The S2 Partnership’s team of specialist environmental consultants work with clients to manage environmental priorities and help meet legislative requirements. Working with clients to develop practical solutions through the use of S2’s risk management platform, RiskWise and environmental audits, the focus is on driving continuous improvements. S2 is proud to be a partner of GRESB.
If you would like further advice or guidance, please contact our team of specialist consultants.