Salting and gritting - winter road gritting and salt bins

Snow clearing volunteers

You can help your community by clearing snow from paths. The Met Office Snow Code provides some useful guidelines.

We also encourage local communities to create Winter Salting Groups to clear snow and help spread salt on minor roads and pavements not covered by our gritting routes.

You can form a team of volunteers and contact your town or parish council to register interest in setting up a Winter Salting Group. You’ll be able to use your local knowledge to work out the locations such as schools where salting is a priority.

Volunteers can be covered under Bedfordshire and Luton Emergency Volunteers Executive Partnership (BLEVEP) policy provided by Zurich. You simply need to complete the registration form (PDF 9.1KB)  and work in a safe and sensible manner as part of a co-ordinated volunteer scheme.

All snow clearing volunteers should follow this advice when clearing snow from the highway

Anyone clearing snow from outside their own property or someone else’s property would only be liable for an accident if their efforts actually made the pavement less safe than it was with the snow and ice undisturbed and as a result somebody is injured. It is advised to undertake an assessment of risks associated with clearing snow and gritting and ensure those risks are mitigated.

Volunteers spreading salt  for clearing snow from the highway at times of severe weather should:

  • wear a high visibility long sleeved vest or jacket. A vest can be worn over normal clothing. A jacket can be worn in place of a normal coat
  • wear warm clothing and stout footwear which will provide a good grip. If possible use slip-on snow and ice spikes that fit over your shoes. Physical work will warm up the body so be prepared to shed layers, but remember that your body will quickly cool down once you cease working
  • wear suitable protective gloves or work gloves when handling the grit and avoid prolonged skin contact
  • ensure that someone is aware that you have gone out to carry out this work and how long you intend to be there for. Work in pairs where possible. Remember also to advise that person of your return
  • assess the location before commencing work. Do not attempt to work if you feel conditions would make this unsafe - for example, if visibility is poor, traffic flows are too high or conditions are so severe that you would be placing yourself at risk of falling or extreme cold
  • always be aware of approaching traffic. Remember the conditions may mean that traffic will have difficulty stopping. Try to work in pairs so that someone can observe the traffic
  • use the grit sparingly and thinly.  Spread a small amount on a shovel and sprinkle gently. The material in the grit bins is a mixture of salt and grit. The salt will help to speed up the process of thawing snow and ice. The grit is intended to provide grip on the surface of compacted snow or ice
  • when spreading salt/grit on the pavements it is better to remove most of the snow and then spread the salt/grit mixture
  • if shovelling snow, use a shovel with the widest blade available. Make a line down the middle of your path first so you have a safe surface to walk on. Then you can simply shovel the snow from the centre to the sides
  • care should be taken to avoid blocking access points to properties, driveways, paths (especially at pedestrian crossings and drains). The cleared snow should be deposited in the verge or areas that are not used by vehicles
  • use salt or sand – not water.  If salt is not available e.g from the grit bins, you can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt - a tablespoon for each square meter you clear should work. But avoid spreading on plants or grass
  • do not be put off clearing paths because you are afraid someone will get injured.  Remember, people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves
  • pay extra attention to clear snow and ice from steps and steep pathways – you might need to use more salt on these areas

Clear the snow or ice early in the day. It's easier to move fresh, lose snow rather than hard snow that has been packed together from people walking on it. So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can the cover the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight.