When you are in the grip of winter and temperatures plummet, knowing the correct way to grit a path or road can be a lifesaver.
It’s crucial to be prepared in the event of snow and icy conditions, particularly if you have private business premises.
When work requires you to travel in these conditions, slippery snow and ice can pose a threat to the safety of your staff and visitors alike, so it’s important that you take precautions to minimise the risk. 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, which extends to clearing ice and snow.
In this blog post, we’ll be getting down to the ‘nitty gritty’ of keeping your business premises safe this year, and explain the correct way to grit your paths or road using the right equipment from our Winter Products range.
What is grit, and how does it work?
The grit you see on outdoor surfaces during the winter months is usually rock salt. Rock salt is widely used as grit because when applied to paths or roads, it quickly lowers the freezing point of the water which causes any existing ice or snow to melt.
When grit is walked or driven over, the salt grinds down and becomes a saline solution. This ice and salty mixture provides underfoot friction, before disappearing down any nearby drains.
However, if grit is left untouched it can block drains, and may even pose a danger to pedestrians and drivers. This is because when grit isn’t ground down by tyres and feet, it becomes ‘hygroscopic,’ and actually attracts more water! So, when gritting an area, be sure to focus only on spots that will definitely be walked on or driven over so as to avoid attracting more ice and/or causing drain blockages.
How do I grit a surface?
As we’ve already mentioned, if you own or occupy private land, you are responsible for ensuring that it can be safely accessed by staff and visitors.
In cases of extreme weather conditions, your local council will typically intervene by clearing snow and/or gritting public paths and roads – you can check whether the council will grit your local paths or road here. However, beyond that, it is your responsibility.
When it comes to gritting a surface, there are a number of things to take into consideration.
- 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.
- Remove the top layer of snow first. Use a Snow Scoop and/or Yard Brush to remove fresh, loose snow so that grit can be directly applied to ice.
- 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 Rapid Ice Melt is designed to quickly melt snow and ice from paths and steps and prevent re-freezing.
When is the best time to grit a path or road?
It is most effective to distribute grit early in the morning. This is because it’s not only much easier to remove fresh, loose snow but gritting in the morning will ensure the ground is ready ahead of early morning traffic or pedestrians.
It is also recommended to re-grit the surface in the evening, not only in advance of peak traffic flows as staff and visitors leave for the day, but also to prevent the ice from re-freezing as evening temperatures fall.
It’s always wise to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts. 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!
Safety doesn’t end at the front door
Snow and ice means wet shoes and boots, which can cause wet patches around the entrances to your business premises. Be sure to place dry Entrance Mats inside the doorways to soak up water and enable people to wipe their feet, and read our blog post on How to Reduce the Risk of Slips, Trips and Falls with Effective Floor Cleaning for more helpful advice.
We hope that you’ve found this blog useful, and we’ve thawed away any uncertainty you had about gritting a path or road. Why not take a look at our complete Winter Products range so you’re fully prepared for whatever the weather brings.