Winter Blues; Preparing for cold weather and the risks that come with it……….
With the onset of winter comes an increase in the level of risk associated with losses resulting from cold weather such as frozen and burst pipes, storm events, snow loading on roofs and slips and trips from icy and wet surfaces. Golf clubs are not immune from any of these risks and indeed in some cases are at significantly higher risk due to their isolated locations.
In terms of preparing for winter weather and to help reduce your exposure to potential losses preparation is key. The starting point is to ensure adequate risk assessments are carried out by competent persons, appropriate control measures are in place and staff are adequately trained and informed around managing risk. Daily monitoring of weather conditions is extremely important and will assist in ensuring you are properly prepared for a winter weather event, to protect not only your property but your potential liabilities as an occupier and an employer.
Risk assessment is a key part to any loss prevention programme. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment will identify the degree of potential a loss type will have for occurring and it’s potential impact. It will also identify whether any additional steps can or need to be taken to eliminate or reduce the level of risk of a that loss occurring.
In preparing for winter here are some recommendations that can be followed to help prevent losses occurring and minimise their impact;
• Check the general condition of all water systems, including pipes, clips/hangers supporting these pipes, storage tanks, valves etc. Any elements showing signs of damage or deterioration should be repaired or replaced.
• Check areas around all pipework and tanks for signs of leaking eg stains and watermarks, rectify as necessary. Leaks detected at an early stage can be repaired before a catastrophic failure of the system occurs.
• Inspect all boilers and heating systems annually or in line with manufacturer’s recommendations. Maintain adequate levels of fuel on site.
• Locate and document the position of all stopcocks, check and test stopcocks and valves are working, maintain and lubricate as necessary. Ensure all staff know where these are located.
• Use a frost-stat setting on heating systems to ensure that temperatures within premises are maintained at a minimum temperature of 4 degrees celsius.
• Where it is not possible or practical to maintain the whole premises at a minimum temperature, install trace heating to water pipes, especially those above insulated ceilings and even those pipes that are lagged in these areas as they can still be affected, especially in prolonged periods of freezing weather.
• Ensure susceptible water pipes are suitably lagged.
• Buildings that remain unoccupied for any reason and have a water supply should have water drained down and the supply isolated during the winter months. The same principle should be applied to any equipment that stores or uses water and is likely not to be used over the winter period, this is known as “winterizing equipment”
• Have an emergency response procedure prepared and trained out to relevant staff so they know what to do in the event of a loss occurring.
Property losses in winter are not just restricted to leaks from water systems and potential liabilities from failing to maintain your property must also be constantly monitored and managed.
• Check roof drains and gutters for plugging by leaves, litter etc so as to prevent back up and ponding of water and ice.
• Ensure procedures exist for removal of snow from roofs to protect the buildings themselves from damage and also to prevent snow slide from roofs onto areas that could be used by pedestrian traffic. Ensure these procedures take into account appropriate health and safety measures for those undertaking the work of clearing snow.
• Check that roofs are in good condition not just to ensure they are weather proof but to detect loose slates/tiles, chimney pots, brickwork or other features such as TV aerials are secure so that they don’t come down during windy conditions.
• Check that openings into buildings are properly sealed eg doors and windows so as to prevent water ingress.
• Wind can cause havoc to light weight buildings such as those with profiled single skin metal walls and roofs, many of which can be located in exposed positions. Ensure that these buildings are maintained in good condition, any signs of damage or wear and tear should be addressed.
• Check fencing is in good condition and that supports are not showing signs of rot or rusting that could prevent them from surviving a storm.
The above recommendations can be followed to help prevent losses from occurring or help minimise the impact of a loss occurring. These recommendations are not limited, additional considerations may be necessary for your own golf club as each club will have its own unique circumstances. If you have any queries regarding these recommendations please do not hesitate to contact your Regional Account Manager or telephone the Circle Golf office on 0141 242 4861.