Winter Weather and Being Safe

Over the last few years, we have continued to support a number of projects across the Highlands, Southern Scotland and the North of England despite whatever the weather can throw at us.  Some days are rewarded with rain and extreme wind, however the dry, cold and bright ones we treasure.

The last 3 winters, we have been supervising construction in the central Highlands around the Great Glen, and despite the nay-sayers, we have been able to continue our work and projects.  Limited snow fall across these areas and limited frost has resulted in mild winters and we have continued our construction supervision alongside the contractors and clients before the emergence of spring.  Always at the back of our minds has been the onslaught of snow and ice, stopping the works and shutting down the sites.

As we see the rush to build renewable energy projects before the deadlines of the clean energy subsidies end, none have considered the weather implications, assuming access to sites in remote parts of Scotland and the North of England will be fine in Mid February.  An assumption on is also made regarding constructing and undertaking ground breaking during the bird breeding season without full considerations or allowances for mitigation measures.  Both of these can shut a project down before it really has got underway.

It really is important to plan projects properly, allowing sufficient time to consider anything which may jeopardise a project.  It is even a Health and Safety requirement to properly address the issues of planning your projects properly and the HSE via the CDM 2015 Regulations requires you to :

allow sufficient time and resources for each stage of the project

This is done alongside assessing and appointing appropriate contractors and ensuring welfare facilities are present on site during the works.  This is a statute requirement ensuring that if insufficient time is allowed, then you can be prosecuted under the laws of the land.

The issue of site access during winter has been debated with a number of clients, and we have even produced a risk assessment for skiing into a site to undertake water monitoring.  The issue of staff safety is paramount and following discussions with a leading safety consultant, we ensured that all our staff are safe in the hills, probably more safe than they would if they were doing their normal leisure pursuits.  Our staff carry SPOT trackers, ensuring that we know where they are, and if there is no mobile reception, then satellite phones and working buddies are appointed to monitor them on the hill.  In the worst of conditions, work is cancelled.