SUMMER’S still here – but Kirklees businesses have been urged to think ahead to the winter and plan for potentially costly personal injury claims.
Figures from the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions show that the number of people in Huddersfield making claims for personal injuries during the winter months has rise by 28% over the past four years to stand at 51.
This trend is replicated across the UK with claims rising by 23% nationally between November and March over the same four years.
Winter risk management specialist GRITIT said this coincided with unusual weather patterns in the UK, which resulted in unpredictable levels of snow and ice.
The number of days when the temperature dropped below zero in Huddersfield has varied from 49 in 2011/2012 winter to 65 in 2009/2010 winter.
Alastair Kight, managing director of GRITIT, said: “Met Office reports have confirmed that more rain fell this summer than any other in recorded history and that during the winter of 2010/11 Britain recorded its coldest night with temperatures dropping to a record minus 18.7 in Northern Ireland.
“A new study suggests that these extreme weather events in the last few years may well be linked to climate change. So we all need to be prepared for more extreme weather patterns in the future and businesses should be putting measures in place to protect themselves from the risks, including personal injury claims.”
The law places responsibility on employers and owners or occupiers to ensure that premises are maintained in a condition without risk of injury. Anything hazardous which can be removed, such as snow and ice, must be removed.
In addition to injury claims, insurance may be compromised if a business cannot prove that it used its “best endeavours” to maintain its premises in a risk-free state.
Mr Kight said that by developing a winter risk management strategy now, businesses could ensure they had a plan in place to manage snow and ice on their sites every time the temperature is forecast to drop below zero.
“Working with a contractor to provide ice and snow clearance should prevent the need to invest in staff, equipment or systems and their insurance can take care of any claims,” he said. “But this needs to be planned in advance rather than waiting to order their services when required.
“With extreme weather on the increase – for example floods, droughts, snow and ice – businesses need to make worthwhile investments which ensure they can deliver their services and operate effectively irrespective of Britain’s weather conditions, or risk paying a high price if they are unable to do so.”
GRITIT, founded in 2004, provides specialist gritting and snow-clearance to private and public companies in the retail, commercial, industrial, logistics and health sectors. In an average winter, the company will provide more than 100,000 service visits across the UK from its 92 depots.