Fallen leaves, colder weather and pumpkin decorations signals autumn. While we are digging out our jumpers and flicking on the heating, the savvy business director is preparing for the new risks the season brings. Are you ready to protect your business from the challenges of a changing season?
Read on for our advice on how to batten down the hatches and keep your business safe and sound as we move towards the end of the year.
In recent years, we have started having warmer and warmer autumns, with brighter sun and less harsh weather. But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, we have also seen more powerful storms and high rainfall, meaning some areas of the country are unprepared. Inclement weather like high winds and rainstorms could impact the following:
- Production processes
- Ability to trade
Additionally, the warmer autumn weather has increased the risk of fire from accumulated dry leaves or debris. Keep your gutters clean, your outdoor areas swept and shore up your fire safety protocols.
Make sure to assess your property for vulnerabilities to fire, flooding, and high winds. Investing in reinforcements to buildings, even something as simple as sandbags, could make the difference.
Making seasonal additions
Inevitably as autumn progresses, heating systems will be used more and more to keep customers and workers warm. We all rely on these systems, sometimes daily, for months at a time. These systems are fallible, and if they stop working it can put your business on the back foot if you need to close until it’s repaired and could cost a lot of money. Ensure your heating system is fully serviced and covered in the event of issues.
Cooler nights and the need to protect people from wet weather leads businesses to look at modifications to their outdoor areas. Be it for customers or workers, additions like enclosures, heaters or lighting can increase safety and satisfaction, and seasonal decorations can be a fun addition foreveryone.
Managing this change is important. Changing layouts, new equipment, décor and so on may introduce new risks to a building and the people who use it. Make sure that these new additions do not add falling or crushing risks, are properly factored into fire protocols, are not a trip hazard and generally do not interfere with the general running of your business. Keep the first point of this article in mind too; you wouldn’t want your new heater blowing over in a gale!
Escape of water
Any building with plumbing, waste systems, heating systems, cooling systems or fixed water installations are at risk of damage from the escape of water. Something as drastic as flooding from burst pipes can be devastating. Leaks could affect the appearance of your business, damage electrical systems and increase risks to your customers or workforce. Stay vigilant and consider having a review of your plumbing systems before the need for consistent use starts.
Slips, trips and falls
Wet weather, damp autumn leaves and the potential for icy surfaces increase the risks of slips, trips and falls - both inside and outside your premises. Any injuries caused by these issues not only affect the individuals involved but could also mean losses for your business.
Customers, or employees, may make claims for financial compensation if they suffer injuries on your premises. Employee absences could cut productivity down dramatically, and incurs costs if replacements are necessary. Depending on your specific circumstances, practical steps can be taken to mitigate the risk of such injuries and accidents.
Anti-slip measures for highly trafficked pathways may be a wise investment, as well as making sure workers and equipment are properly resourced with appropriate footwear, tyres and more. Even simple changes, like putting up warning signs, gritting walkways, and sweeping up leaves can help prevent people from getting hurt and your business from suffering.
Road traffic collisions
The need to use motor vehicles does not stop when autumn comes, but road users do face more risks than the warmer months. There’s a myriad of potential hazards to watch out for:
- Fallen leaves
- Lower sun
- Frost or ice
- Longer periods of darkness
- Fog and mist
- High winds
All the above can affect a driver’s ability to control their vehicle, but also puts more vulnerable road users like cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians at higher risk.
Making sure your vehicles are properly inspected for things like headlight malfunctions, your drivers are up to date on their safety training and regulations, and that motor incidents are reported right away are all very important steps businesses should be taking.
Finally, organising professional risk assessments and inspections is an important step to preventing weather related damage.
- Have trained engineers check equipment
- Service commercial vehicles regularly at a reputable supplier
- Check built-in systems like boilers before the temperature drops
It is important to make sure your equipment is safe and ready. Do not rely on your standard statutory inspection regime. Your inspections should be carried out by competent, independent people, who are accredited by their respective industry bodies.
The cost of professional inspections, additional equipment, or devotion of working hours to risk assessments may seem too high or too much hassle. In the current economic climate, a rise in overhead costs could negatively affect a business more than usual. Such investments will inevitably be less expensive and less disruptive than letting any of the above problems go unnoticed or unaddressed.
If any of the risks listed above are applicable to you and your business, Harborough Portas can help. We will work with you to assess potential risks in your business and ensure that your level of insurance coveris appropriate. Drawing on our decades of experience and our individual, personal service, we work to understand the specific needs of your company in relation to the changing seasons and the changing economic and insurance landscape. We can help connect you to professionals from a range of industries who can conduct risk assessments and inspections on your commercial property.
Call us on 0116 260 0506, email us at email@example.com, or fill out a contact form here.We’re always happy to have a conversation with you about how we can help yourbusiness.
To find out more about Autumn risks to your business view Aviva’s Autumn Risk Management Guides.