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10.12.2019, 14:12

The Nitty-gritty of Preventing Winter Slips and Falls

Prettpal Somel, UK marketing executive with Rentokil Initial subsidiary, Ambius, says cold spells are an opportunity for businesses to review their use of gritting in safeguarding employees and visitors.


An Arctic blast is predicted for the UK over the coming weeks, with sub-zero temperatures expected to sweep across the country. During these cold winter months, one of the most important things for any business is guaranteeing the safety of employees and visitors.


Ice and snow aren’t everyday hazards, but as we’ve learnt over past years, England’s unpredictable weather means building managers need to be prepared for almost any eventuality. When the weather turns, businesses must act fast to ensure customers and employees can safely move about the premises. Planning ahead and knowing who can help is key to ensuring your site can remain ice and snow free.

The science behind the salt

The most common and effective solution to prevent ice-induced slips and potential injuries is gritting.


Grit is actually rock salt, mined from ancient underground salt mines. It works by lowering the freezing point of the ice and moisture on the ground. This prevents ice from forming and helps to melt the existing ice on the ground too.


It’s a tried and tested formula, but knowing how to access, or distribute grit, is another question.

When and where should I grit?

Successful gritting is all about timing. If grit is laid down too early it can get picked up by the wind and blown away, meaning it is wasted. But if you leave it too late, surfaces may already be frozen, presenting a risk for both visitors and staff.


Quite often, the best time to grit a site is overnight, before the temperature hits its lowest, and so the site is ready for when the next working day begins.


In terms of where grit should be distributed, building managers need to prioritise the main access routes and thoroughfares. This includes all entrances and exits, car parks, or any popular routes from nearby train stations or bus stops, for example. For schools, any outdoor areas where students or teaching staff will be walking in between lessons should be treated.


In the event of snowfall, all snow will need to be cleared properly before grit is distributed, so it can work effectively.

Bring in the professionals

Knowing exactly when an icy or snowy spell will strike can be challenging. Which is why using a professional gritting service is often the easiest and safest way to ensure your site is properly gritted. 


Most reputable gritting services operate using a 24/7 Met Office weather watch solution, which alerts to when potentially hazardous weather conditions are on the horizon – for example below 2 or 3°C. Experts will visit your site when it’s vacant (i.e. around working/ school hours, or overnight) and identify the priority areas for treatment. Snow clearance usually forms part of this service too.


It’s also important to use the right tools, equipment and vehicles, when gritting to protect the local environment. If deployed incorrectly, the salt from the grit can damage grassed areas, flowers and foliage. Professional gritting experts will work with this level of care in mind to ensure the process is managed as quickly, safely and as efficiently as possible. They will also provide things like grit bins, bags of salt and snow shovels so your business has the capability to manage and lay grit if needed. 

Final words

When snow and ice strikes, employees and students will typically have to make more effort than usual, to get into work or school. Ensuring a safe and slip-free environment for when they arrive is fundamental. Having the right gritting services in place will minimise any disruption while helping ensure the safety of your employees, customers and passers-by.


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