Kusten Vorland Snowfall Policy
Friday, 18 January 2013 | Admin
Welsh Business Comes to a Snow Stand Still, an interview with Ian Summers, Head of Operations for Kusten Vorland.
It is business as usual at the Kusten Vorland offices today, my first call was 4am this morning. We were out clearing snowfall from heavy machinery and walkways to allow site work to continue with minimal disruption. The penalties on most of our sites for missing a deadline are financially heavy. Because of health and safety concerns we can’t carry on with usual outdoor site work but similar constraints apply to working in heavy rain. Operationally we are more prepared with lessons learned from the summer rainfall of 2012, with all of our roofing sites on stop for most of the summer, it hit us hard financially. When we hear a forecast of snow and ice we call in all our staff and work indoors, re-programming work wherever possible. The more notice of changes in weather we can get the easier planning is, we risk assess our sites and decide which areas we can work in and re schedule others. Idle staffs are a huge cost and we have to find operational solutions post snowfall.
It is difficult to prepare especially in geography like South Wales where the effects of the snow are so disparate across the region but transport is key to keeping businesses running smoothly. If staff can get to work safely then the majority of businesses will remain operational. My main issues today haven’t been my staff not turning up, its suppliers being closed. We needed some keys cut for one site and to purchase a specialist tool for another and it took my supervisors 2 hours to locate suppliers open in the snow. When phoning round the general mood was “obviously we are shut!”. If businesses prepare in advance and communicate to staff how they will be transported to work, it will maintain staff levels on snowy days.
With all the policies we have in place as a employers- Training, Health and Safety, Environmental; many businesses still do not devise and communicate an adverse weather policy. Our department has a policy in place which we call our “Rainy Day”, it clearly describes to staff what happens in snow fall. It’s quite a simple policy, staff sit tight at home until a supervisor collects them in a 4x4 pick up equipped with winter tyres, the drivers of these vehicles attend a driving course bi-anually and get a certificate of attendance, this is integrated into our training policy and our way of life. If more businesses planned in this way I don’t think we would see so many closed doors commercially. The cost to businesses must be huge, how many days can we afford to pay our staff and not have them turn in for work? What if it snowed for 2 weeks! A policy is the answer.
As a business leader I worry about the public sectors lack of preparedness for snow fall but in reality the roads were clear from very early on today and gritted. If all staff were issued with snow boots they could each get to nearby public transport too I expect!
I don’t feel private sector workers put any effort into coming into work at all when it snows, we all wait for the decision by the local schools to close and its like a domino effect. One of my suppliers in Sweden laughs down the phone at me when he watches us on the world news in snow fall. He runs a telecommunications company and often takes a photo from his office window and the snow is 8 ft deep. Once he saw footage of us panic buying groceries and he asked me how stocking up on bread and milk was going to help us in our 2 inches of snow, I didn’t know what to say!
Like most businesses In Kusten Vorland our office staff are equipped with the necessary technology to prevent them having to come into the office. Similarly switchboards are rerouted and technology in place for critical office staff to function from home seamlessly and without disruption to our customers, this is in place as part of our flexible working policy. It isn’t an integral part of our “Rainy Day” policy but could be if the snow and ice worsen.
Our collection of weather policies has been invaluable to us over the past few years, the weather has hit the headlines frequently because of extremities recently and the solution is all in the planning.
Ian Summers, Head of Operations, Kusten Vorland
18th Januray 2013