Winter gritting in schools

The most common method used to de-ice floors is gritting as it is relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Rock salt (plain and treated) is the most commonly used ‘grit’. It is the substance used on public roads by the highways authority and local authorities.

Salt can stop ice forming and cause existing ice or snow to melt. It is most effective when it is ground down, but this will take far longer on pedestrian areas than on roads.

Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times are early in evening before the frost settles and/or early in the morning before staff/pupils arrive. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.

In a school environment the following steps should be considered:

  1. Create a Gritting Plan for the School – assess the major access and escape routes, walkways and high traffic areas in the school that need gritting, certain routes may be prioritised ahead of others.
  2. Ensure that the gritting plan is communicated to all staff using the school and that they understand and follow it.
  3. Site staff should prepare the school as early as possible, ideally before other staff arrive at the school when inclement weather is prevalent or forecast.
  4. The defined routes and areas should be cleared then grit applied to provide the best possible surface to walk on. Grit should not be applied in heavy rain as it is likely to be washed away.
  5. Ensure safe application techniques of grit are used, ideally having an automatic means of spreading to avoid manual handling is best, or making sure that safe man handling techniques are used to avoid injury from repetitive movements.
  6. Further applications of grit should be made during the day when required to ensure safe egress at the end of school day.
  7. Records should be kept by the site staff of what gritting has taken place.
  8. Ensure supplies of grit and other materials required are procured in advance of the cold season.

Ensure your school is prepared for the cold season and as ever, feel free to contact the ProFire office for further guidance.

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