Article

Reopening your viticulture business to visitors

2020 has seen the tourism industry hard hit with many attractions not opening post lockdown and taking the view that they should stay closed to visitors until spring 2021 especially with the latest lockdown taking place, this has left a significant hole in business cashflow. Generally, people are getting used to life post lockdown with social distancing, use of face coverings, protective screens and alcohol gels.

For many English and Welsh wineries that welcome visitors, retail areas, cafes and restaurants have been closed throughout the summer, and areas of the business normally open to guests have been considered part of the working vineyard.

With this in mind, please take the time to consider a few important factors in welcoming visitors to your premises.

General

  • Make sure your insurance provider is aware of your activities, and that they have made any adjustments required to the business policies if you have changed what you do.
  • Review your risk assessment - different hazards may be present due to the seasonal change. Make sure you have assessed the risks from Coronavirus and have put measures in place to minimise that risk.

Vehicle Movements

  • Consider commercial vehicle movements on site, especially in relation to your visitor parking and any shared roadways / yards. The public will not expect to see tractors and forklift trucks moving around and will be unaware of the dangers when approaching moving vehicles or walking behind reversing vehicles.
  • Where you provide guided tours consider the use of high visibility vests for your guides and visitors. 
  • Remind staff of the need to use “Safe Stop” (handbrake on, controls in neutral, engine off, remove key) when leaving vehicles and, where applicable, make sure loads are lowered to the floor. Also ensure that site speed limits are observed.
  • Use physical barriers and signage to discourage access to working areas and remind staff to be extra vigilant when moving around the site. Tractors can appeal to children who have no comprehension of the dangers.

Public access areas

  • If you’re reopening an area after it has been out of use for a while, carry out a thorough check of the premises for hazards which may have arisen during any closed period. This is particularly important for areas that are accessible to visitors and includes slip and trip risks and ad hoc storage of materials (tools, equipment, chemicals etc.). Ensure good lighting levels are maintained and warning signs are in place if necessary. Repeat this check on a daily basis during normal operation.
  • Consider where you have stacked equipment such as bins and ensure they are secure.
  • Ensure unauthorised areas are kept secure and locked where possible.
  • Ensure parking areas and footpaths are treated during cold weather.

Hazardous working areas

  • A lot of the health and safety risks associated with tours of the winery and vineyard arise from when the tour enters the working parts of the business. Therefore consider planning your tour daily to ensure the safety of guests and avoid the relevant areas where work is taking place e.g. harvest, bottling, spraying etc. on a particular day. Re-routing the tour can still achieve a good overview of the operations, without guiding them through an area where they may be exposed to forklift truck movements, hazardous chemicals and any other risks present in those areas.
  • Ensure there’s good communication between different people within the business and that the planned activities for the day are known to all, and that the tour is adjusted if needed.
  • Consider using 2-way radios as part of how the team does daily communication, as this will allow the person doing the tour to make immediate contact with those involved in the commercial operation e.g. tractor drivers, if you notice any unplanned works which may cause risk to guests.
  • Where you’re using contractors, especially if those workers do not speak English as a first language, ensure their safety briefings include the risks related to the presence of visitors and that they have suitable work procedures whilst working on your site.
  • If reopening the café or restaurant, make sure the pressure vessels and gas appliances have been tested.

Tours and Wine tasting

  • Make sure that safety information is included on the website, within printed literature or in any verbal briefings for guests, to advise of the relevant safety requirements e.g. keeping to footpaths, keeping dogs on leads, being aware of agricultural machinery operating etc.
  • Check that guests are wearing suitable footwear. Consider having a stock of wellies to borrow to ensure they can safely walk the vineyards during winter months, but make sure that you have adequate hygiene arrangements in place in between each use.
  • Minimise the number of people in a tour group and ensure the people in each group are kept together. No guests should be allowed to stray from the assigned route, especially in the winery. Where possible control spreading out of the group by having clear walking routes and be aware of all guests on any self-guided tour that might be available to ensure all are accounted for.

Covid-19 specific

  • Make your rules and COVID-19 arrangements clear on your website and refer guests to these during the booking process.
  • Consider requesting your guests sign a declaration of health and ensure that they have read and understood the rules before they come to your site.
  • Make sure you have clear measures in place for social distancing, face coverings and hygiene.
  • Make sure you are aware of the Government test and trace rules and are able to follow them.
  • Ensure suitable hand washing and welfare facilities are available, which are cleaned on a more frequent basis than normal, and don’t forget about social distancing in these facilities.
  • Keep tour group numbers limited and in accordance with Government rules in relation to numbers and mixing households. Where possible treat the group as a bubble during the day to minimise the number of people they come into contact with.
  • Ensure that your team members who conduct the visits and wine tasting sessions follow current Government rules, including those on social distancing, hygiene and face coverings.

Discount available for Wines GB Members

NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd are pleased to announce a 20% discount on the headline rates of all services to Wine GB members upon confirmation of a valid membership number. Please provide your membership number when using the contact details below. Please speak to your local agency who can explain any terms and conditions that apply.

To find your local specialist viticulture Agent, email winegb@nfumutual.co.uk – they’ll be able to talk about the Health & Safety Services we can offer.

Risk Management Services are provided by NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited and are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority.