Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Snow and Ice Procedures

Snow and Ice

The University seeks to manage the effect of bad weather, particularly ice and snow, on campus, to ensure that staff and students are safe, and that the University can operate effectively.

 

 

Clearance of roads, car parks and paths

  • The roads on campus are technically private roads, which the local councils and highways agency have no responsibility to maintain.  The University therefore has sole responsibility for clearing and gritting roads, car parks and paths.  (We also seek to clear the path from Falmer railway station and the subway, although they are not University responsibility)
  • We use external contractors and premises staff to undertake this service, and have a small snow plough to assist with the clearance of any snow.  However, we cannot guarantee that roads, paths and car parks can be kept open in all weather conditions
  • Supplies of grit and salt for campus are limited due to high demand and cannot be guaranteed if there is prolonged bad weather
  • The formal clearing processes for ice and snow involves different teams and major routes are prioritised.  A map showing this and further information is available on the Sussex Estates and Facilities website
  • Where all car parks are at risk of closure, the University seeks to keep open those car parks which are most accessible, flattest and safest to keep open in the circumstances (eg Sussex House and Sports Centre).  These are prioritised in order to keep at least some car parking for all campus users,  not those who happen to work closest to these car parks
  • We have also prioritised the clearance of main paths around campus so that a core network of paths are cleared.

 

Safety of staff, students and other campus users

  • In deciding whether campus can remain open, we have to take account of the safety of staff, students and other campus users in accessing the campus by car and public transport, and using the campus safely.
  • We also have to take account of the ability to maintain key services on campus - eg security, catering etc - if staff are unable to travel to work.
  • We cannot guarantee the safety of staff and students in bad weather conditions and the use of roads and paths across campus must be done with care. 

 

Different possible statuses for campus

The different types of status for campus and its operation in bad weather conditions would be:

  • Campus open as normal - ie we judge it safe to operate the campus, can provide key services and expect staff to travel to work, where they can do so safely.
  • Campus open, but with limited services or access - eg some car parks not cleared, so parking has to be limited, some paths icy etc.  Some services cannot be provided - eg not all cafes can be opened.  But travel by car and public transport means sufficient key staff can come to work.  In these and any more severe circumstances, where staff can effectively carry out work from home then managers should authorise this.
  • The campus is severely disrupted (eg it has to close to traffic or car parks are not open).  In extreme circumstances (as we saw in 2009 and 2010) we may need to stop vehicles coming on to campus if road conditions are too dangerous, or if no car parks are accessible. Services are likely to be severely disrupted, and we could not guarantee access to all buildings.  Staff may be advised to come to campus only if necessary.
  • The University is closed - this is a formal decision made by senior managers if it is judged that the University cannot provide key services and remain open safely for staff, students and visitors.  Essential services - eg security, residential services - would need to be maintained.  But other staff would be expected not to come on to campus.  

 

Decision-making procedures - Overnight snow

  • We review these decisions on an ongoing basis, and in relation to campus closing or remaining open, we seek to have a clear decision taken by 6.30am, so that information can be posted on the website by around 7am if at all possible.
  • Decisions may however be conditional on changing circumstances, since we want to keep campus open wherever possible, and it might be the case that the campus can open later in the day, as conditions allow.

 

Decision-making procedures - Daytime snow

  • If adverse weather develops during the daytime, the University keeps a close eye on the conditions to establish whether it remains safe to continue to keep the campus open, for staff and students to travel safely, taking account of whether public transport remains operational.  The University also needs to be mindful of the fact that some staff will need to remain to provide normal campus services (eg catering, security and residential services) for students living on campus.
  • If the Unviersity does decide that it needs to stop its normal teaching and research activities, then this will be communicated to staff and students using the channels set out below. Managers of individual services and units are not expected to make unilateral decisions in relation to their operations (either closing or remaining open) before central guidance has been provided.
  • The University has a procedure for closing buildings once a decision has been made to stop normal activities in the event of snow and ice - this means that all activities within the buildings stop and staff will need to leave those buildings and normal out of hours procedures apply.

 

Continued operation of services

  • If services on the campus are reduced during snow and ice - eg if some staff cannot travel in to campus - then we endeavour to keep up to date information about which Library, ITS clusters, cafes, shops and so on are open.
  • If you are responsible for such services, you should send updates during any period of adverse weather conditions affecting campus, to internalcomms@sussex.ac.uk

 

Communications

  • The authoritative place for information is the University web pages for staff and for students. These are the first places at which information is posted and kept updated during the day.  
  • We cannot - for practical reasons - guarantee that information is updated overnight before 7am on every day, but seek to get information out as quickly as possible around this time.
  • We may also use the following, although these are all secondary sources:
    • The contact email for sharing information with the university comms team is internalcomms@sussex.ac.uk
    • the University's twitter account, staff twitter and student twitter - and the University's Facebook site
    • SussexMobile alerts, mass emails – e.g. to all staff or students;
    • messages on the University telephone switchboard; and
    • local radio stations and the Argus local newspaper.

 

Staff travel to and from campus

Although campus may be open, there may be other reasons why staff cannot come to or stay at work due to snow.  For example, public transport may be cancelled, or minor roads impassable.  In these circumstances, staff would be expected to inform their line manager, and where possible work from home. 

 

Staff with caring responsibilities

Similarly, there might be staff with caring responsibilities (eg for children) where the services they rely on (eg schools) are closed due to the bad weather.  In these circumstances staff should inform their line manager, and would be expected to work from home if at all possible.