Earlier this year snow storms and drifts, or the ‘Beast from the East’ as it became known, caused chaos across the UK resulting in school and hospital closures, horrendous traffic conditions and even death in some extreme cases.
Many businesses were also impacted as employees could not make it in to work and retailers suffered as customers stayed away.
One company on a mission to help businesses to better prepare for harsh winter conditions is Wilby Tree Group in Northampton.
Since 1989, Wilby Tree Group has been providing tree surgery services to commercial and domestic clients. Over the years, the company has expanded to offer other related services including supplying woodchip and firewood as part of its Biomass Fuel division and ecology consultancy.
Five years ago, Wilby Tree Group purchased a gritting company and now also provides winter road maintenance services to commercial, industrial and public sector clients throughout Northamptonshire, Bedford and Milton Keynes.
Stephen Bones, Technical and Compliance Manager at Wilby Tree Group, said:
“Unfortunately, when bad weather hits, many of the smaller roads and industrial estates are just not gritted or treated by the local authority. We realised that with our fleet of vehicles, equipment and then the eventual purchase of a gritting company, that we could help businesses to lessen the impact and ensure the safety of their staff and visitors to their sites. Now we work with approximately 35 clients over 50 sites in Northampton and the surrounding area.
‘The Beast from the East’ provided a challenging set of circumstances but we were well prepared and had staff on call to deal with whatever conditions arose. Our forecasts were indicating 20-25cm of snowfall, but in some areas we experienced snowdrifts that were 4-5ft deep. Despite these conditions, we used our snow blower and fleet of tractors with snow plough attachments and were able to deal with all that the ‘Beast from the East’ could throw at us, clearing the way to give our clients and their customers access to their sites. Having done this for a number of years now, we can deal with any issues related to ice and snow to ensure safe site access.”
The service works in a similar way to a retainer contract that sees Wilby Tree Group take on the liability of gritting the site and keeping it clear all year round. The team will attend the site whenever its weather forecast provider, The Meteogroup, indicates that road surface temperatures are likely to fall to a dangerous level and create ice or snow. In addition to gritting and snow ploughing, the company can also provide sites with grit bins and rock salt, ensuring they are prepared for any eventuality.
“Now summer is over and we are entering into the colder months, we would urge businesses in the county to think about how they can prepare themselves,” advises Stephen. “Snow and ice doesn’t just have a financial impact on businesses. If someone slips on some ice at your premises, this could also result in legal action.
“Thankfully winters like earlier this year are generally rare, so it is not financially viable for businesses to invest in snow clearance equipment and staff training themselves. A contract with a company like ourselves is an excellent, cost-effective way to make sure their business remains open during the winter months. Without a doubt, extreme weather events are becoming more common place and site managers need to think about their responsibility to staff and clients and ensure that everyone who visits their site remains safe for the duration of their visit.”
Wilby Tree Group is already working with companies on the major industrial estates in Northampton and covers a radius of up to 20 miles of the town.
Find out more about the Wilby Tree Group: http://www.wilbytree.co.uk/