Keep your business safe this Winter by gritting the correct way
As the ‘Beast from the East’ and other imaginatively named winter storms take hold of the country, it reminds us all that as temperatures plummet in the grip of winter knowing the correct way to grit a road or path is essential. In fact, it can even be a lifesaver!
When you are a business owner with private business premises it is vital that you are prepared for winter weather conditions. For example, snow and ice which can cause slips and falls can pose a threat to the safety of your employees and visitors alike. Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 (amended in 1984), owners or occupiers of private land are legally required to ensure safe access for staff and visitors. This includes clearing snow and ice that can potentially be a health and safety hazard.
There is a correct way to grit your roads or paths using the right equipment from our Winter Products range. Here we get down to the ‘nitty gritty’ of how to correctly grit your roads and paths, to thaw away any uncertainty that you may have in ensuring that your business premises are safe at this time of year:
What is grit, and how does it work?
The grit that is used on roads and paths during winter months is most usually Rock Salt (known properly as halite). Gritting paths and roads is all about melting points and Rock Salt quickly lowers the freezing point of the water which causes any existing ice or snow to melt.
Water begins to freeze when the ambient temperature falls below 4°C so turning any water on paths or roads to ice. In the case of roads this ice cannot be pushed away by tyre tread. Spreading Rock Salt on paths and roads that are then walked upon or driven over causes the salt to grind down and mix with the iced water to produce a brine. The saltier the brine, the lower the melting point, so for example, a mixture of 30g of Rock Salt per 1000g of water lowers the melting point to −1.6°C. If the ambient temperature is 0°C any pure water on the path or road will freeze but the salty water will remain a liquid. This ice and salty mixture provides underfoot friction, before disappearing down any nearby drains.
It should be noted that if grit is left untouched it can block drains and may even pose a danger to pedestrians and drivers. The reason for this is that when grit isn’t ground down by feet and tyres, it becomes ‘hygroscopic,’ and attracts more water. Therefore, when gritting an area ensure that you focus only on the areas that will be walked upon or driven over to avoid causing drain blockages, or/and inadvertently attracting more ice.
How do I correctly grit a path or road?
Whether your business is situated on your own or rented land, it is your responsibility to ensure that your premises can be safely accessed by employees and visitors at all times, even in adverse weather conditions.
In cases of extreme weather conditions, your local council will of course typically intervene by gritting public paths and roads/or clearing snow. However, beyond these public access routes it your responsibility to ensure that your business premises are safe.
To correctly grit a surface there are a number of considerations:
- Remove the top layer of snow first. Use a Snow Shovel and/or Yard Brush to remove fresh, loose snow so that grit can be directly applied to ice.
- Do not use warm water. The water may refreeze and turn into black ice. The most common and effective choice for road grit is Rock Salt. Store in a Grit Salt Bin to keep it dry and ready for use.
- Grit generously and evenly. Spread the salt generously and evenly over areas that have a high level of footfall, or busy roads using a Salt Spreader.
- Pay close attention to paths or steps. A product such as our high purity De-Icing Salt is designed to quickly melt snow and ice from paths and steps and prevent re-freezing.
Is there a best time of day to grit a path or road?
The most effective time to distribute grit on paths and roads is early in the morning. The reason for this is that firstly it is much easier to remove loose, fresh snow. Secondly, gritting in the morning will ensure that the ground is ready ahead of early morning traffic or pedestrians that wish to access your business premises.
We also recommended that your surfaces are re-gritted in the evening. This will have two benefits – keeping employees, visitors and traffic safe as they leave for the day, but also to prevent the ice from re-freezing as evening temperatures fall.
Keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts is advised as rain will soon wash away all the grit before it can make any kind of impact. So be on the lookout for grey clouds before you get to work!
Be sure to keep the inside of your business premises safe too in adverse weather
Do not forget that ice and snow mean wet shoes and boots. This can cause wet patches around the entrances to your business premises and reception areas. To prevent slips and trips due to excess water on floors place entrance mats inside the doorways to soak up water and enable people to wipe their feet. If you are still experiencing a problem with water, then to be extra vigilant place Wet Floor Signs to ensure that your employees and visitors are aware of this potential hazard.
We hope that you have found this article useful. We offer a range of Winter Products range to enable your business to be fully prepared for any further bad weather this winter.