Plan ahead to reduce level of risk

WHAT can farmers do to try to alleviate future weather-related problems to their buildings?

Alistair Smith, property risk manager at Aviva, said forward planning could reduce the risk of some incidents occurring, as well as the effect of such events on the day-to-day running of a farm.

He said farmers should try to check roofs are in a state of good repair before any more extreme weather hits. “Then keep an eye on the weather forecasts and look out for visible signs that the roof may be under stress,” he says.

“A deflection of the roof or cracking, splitting or twisting in the joists, beams and girders could indicate a problem.

“By ensuring maintenance schedules are in place, farmers can reduce the likelihood of damage to property and business interruption caused by heavy snow.”

Roof maintenance advice

  • Roof collapses occur when the snow load exceeds the design load for the roof. Large roofs can be a problem as they may be less well structurally supported, but problems can also occur where the roof lines are staggered, resulting in snow building up, sliding or drifting on to lower levels.
  • Any work on roofs and gutters will involve working at height, so a full risk assessment should be carried out and a safe method of work established by a competent qualified person.
  • Inadequate roof drainage systems and those blocked by debris prevent rainwater and melting snow and ice from freely draining away from roofs. Check drainage and guttering when the roof is checked.
  • Regular and systematic building inspection should be a key part of any maintenance programme to help identify problems promptly, especially if expensive equipment is stored there.
  • Repair or replace missing, slipped or broken slates and damaged or rusty cladding.
  • Ensure there are no gaps or cracks in the cladding or flashing which could allow water to enter the property.
  • Moss, which retains moisture, needs to be removed as it can cause slates to split into thin layers and can gradually erode all metals, particularly lead work.

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