• Winter risk management specialist signs with MeteoGroup to ensure accurate weather forecasting for the season ahead
• Businesses need to plan for the worst and protect themselves from possible claims

Summer 2014 was a good one – weather wise, and last year’s winter was one of the mildest (and wettest) on record.

Already this month, we have seen snow falling in the Scottish Highlands. And, long-range forecasts are predicting a colder winter than average for the UK , but no one can say for certain what lies ahead. The Big Freeze of 2009-10 was a meteorological event, which brought lots of snowy weather. It caused widespread transport disruption, school closures, power failures, the postponement of sporting events and 25 deaths.

De-Ice, one of the UK’s longest-established and leading gritting and snow clearance specialists, has spent the last seven months preparing for Winter 2014-15 – with the aim of ensuring client sites remain safe and operational when exposed to harsh weather. Vicky Lopez, director at De-ice, said:

“Winter is definitely on its way, and we (and our clients), are ready to take on adverse weather conditions. I’d urge any companies that haven’t prepared to do so now – before it’s too late.

“If a hurricane was heading towards the UK, businesses would be battening down their hatches and preparing for the worst. We often question why companies leave winter planning to the last minute, or not at all. The ‘compensation culture’ society we live in, coupled with the increasingly severe winter weather means we are likely to see increasing claims arising from people slipping on snow and ice in the winter months. Isn’t that reason enough to put a plan in place? The potential cost of such claims ranges from a few thousand to millions of pounds, and that doesn’t include the potential for bad publicity and damage to reputation.”

October 1st represents the official start to De-ice’s operational season, and kicking off this period, the company has re-signed a deal with MeteoGroup, to provide accurate, around-the-clock weather forecasting.

Throughout October, the De-ice team will go through rigorous, and bespoke, MeteoGroup training in weather forecasting, to ensure that the best levels of service possible are provided to the client. Mark White, regional director at MeteoGroup, said:

“By working closely with the operators at De-ice, and providing comprehensive winter-road weather training, we are confident that we can help minimise risk in extreme weather conditions for UK businesses.

“The aim of the decision-maker training course, is to increase understanding of weather forecasting and make sure clients are up-to-date with the latest developments in forecasting and winter weather hazards affecting their sites. Operators at de-ice will be accredited by the Institute of Highway Engineers to make more informed decisions in weather critical conditions.”

Vicky Lopez, director at De-ice, added: “The mild autumn weather we have experienced has been a distraction; it does little to focus the mind on possible harsh weather, but what we all need to remember is that no two winters are ever the same.

“Companies need to cover themselves. Putting a plan in place doesn’t cost anything, but – if needed – it can make the difference between remaining operational, and ensuring exposure to slips and trips is minimised. A full audit trail also provides evidence that a site has been properly serviced – offering real peace of mind.”