A Pre-Winter Season Message from the Salt Association

Salt for Winter Road Maintenance

The UK’s salt producers, through the Salt Association, has provided reassurance that salt production nationally is where it needs to be as we move towards the 2018/19 winter season; and urges highways authorities at national and local levels across the UK to be as prepared as they can be and to guard against any complacency in managing and maintaining their salt stocks.

 

Salt is the essential ingredient of all accepted road de-icing methods, so the value and benefit of UK-produced salt should be seen as key to the industry because, not despite of, how commonplace it is.  As applied in dry form, it is tried and tested and supported by decades of successful de-icing results.

 

As such, salt enables highways authorities to meet their statutory duties by keeping our roads as safe as reasonably practical during snowy and icy weather.  Although salt producers may have plentiful stocks this does not alter the fact that the highways authorities have the statutory duties for covering winter maintenance.  Salt stock maintenance by highways authorities through mid-season top-ups is essential to avoid some of the difficulties witnessed last winter in securing supplies.

 

As the new winter season approaches, the Salt Association wishes to communicate the supply chain experiences and challenges faced last winter by highways authorities and, consequently, by their salt-producing suppliers.

 

  • Some local authority depots ran their stocks down too early towards the end of last winter, while others were known to be taking on additional gritting routes without increasing the overall depot salt stock levels.  This caused problems during the late-winter extremely cold conditions.
  • Forecasts of snow events led to spikes in salt orders at times when delivery lorries were inevitably being delayed by the snowy conditions and this was exacerbated by too many depots showing a lack of flexibility in their opening times to accept deliveries, which were arriving later than scheduled.
  • Coastal shipping of supplies was also badly affected with a number of ports being closed during the ‘Beast from the East’.
  • Aside from the challenges posed by snow and ice, there are symptomatic, longer-term issues concerning haulage and logistics which compound the problem.  References are increasingly being made to the shortage of suitably-skilled HGV drivers, and a perceived year-on-year decline in the numbers of tipper trucks available to salt hauliers.
  • Competing demands from other sectors for road haulage exacerbated the situation last year and can be expected again this year – most notably from the agricultural sector with the movement of the grain harvest, fertilisers and animal feeds, and from the major consumer-goods retailers re-stocking for Christmas.

 

These challenges, taken as a whole, present a situation in which the Salt Association believes there is decreasing capacity in the salt supply chain, and it is important that all highways authorities should take note.

 

In short, during last winter there were some local authorities taking unnecessary risks with the supply chain by ignoring the salt stock resilience benchmark of 12 days/48 gritting runs at 20g/m2 recommended in the Quarmby Report; instead continuing to adopt a ‘just in time’ approach.

 

The Salt Association echoes the Department for Transport’s view that

  • it is unfair to expect salt producers and hauliers to deliver within 24 hours of an order, particularly when the country is entering a severe snow event;
  • once a highways authority has used any stock, it should re-order what was used so as to retain the 12 day benchmark throughout the winter season.

 

Through being mindful of the challenges of the supply chain, these measures will safeguard authorities against being victim to potential logistical problems in the winter season and will not leave them in the position of having to contact neighbouring authorities or the DfT for help. It is vital that important lessons from the past are learned so that highways authorities are as prepared as they can be.

 

The UK’s salt producers look forward to supporting the whole country throughout the coming winter season and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Salt Wins 2018 EUsalt Safety Award

 

Photo: (L to R) Richard Diggle, Stephen Crabb, James Paul, Ladan Iravanian from Tata Chemicals Europe

Congratulations to British Salt, part of Tata Chemicals Europe, for winning the 2018 EUsalt Safety Award. Ineos Enterprises were runners-up and Compass Minerals took third place, giving UK salt producers a 1-2-3 ‘clean sweep’.

The award was announced at the EUsalt General Assembly in Basel, 7-9 March 2018.

All three companies are members of the Salt Association – the UK trade association, which represents UK manufacturers of salt for domestic, catering, water-softening, industrial and de-icing uses.

Philip Burgess, Executive Director of the Salt Association, said: “The mantra promoted by the EUsalt Safety Working Group is that safety is a value, not a priority – in recognition that priorities can change over time but values do not – and the results of the 2018 award shows that UK producers place the highest possible value on the safety of their people and of others visiting their sites.”

Stephen Crabb, Head of Operations – Salt & Sodium Bicarbonate, at British Salt, said: “British Salt are always on the lookout for innovative ideas on how to continue to have high levels of employee engagement with health and safety. We also know that the demographics of the workforce are changing. We have an increasingly technologically-savvy workforce, with the millennial generation making up an ever-increasing proportion of the population. From their feedback, it was clear that traditional training methods – the dreaded ‘Death-by-PowerPoint’ was not as effective as we want, particularly in the areas of hazard perception and appreciation.

“We generated an innovative and interactive hazard perception programme involving the use of readily available virtual reality technology. We created a 360′ video footage with a number of staged hazards but in a real workplace location.”

The video footage is replayed on a VR headset with the wearer able to navigate around the work site to hunt for hazards without actually being physically exposed to them. The headset doesn’t need a classroom and can be used individually or as part of a group session with streaming back to a smart TV.

He added: “Results are fantastic! Hazard recognition up 123%, classroom time down 75%, time (particularly useful when organising training for shift-based shopfloor operational teams) and significant positive feedback in terms of employee engagement – safety can be fun!”

#EUsaltGA18

Skimmed Milk Could Help Athletes Keep Hydrated

Skimmed milk could by a key ingredient for athletes to replace vital water and salts lost from the body during exercise.

According to leading nutritionist Lewis James skimmed milk could be much more effective than sports drinks to re hydrate the body because the milk contains a higher level of sodium or salt content than on specialist sports drinks despite them containing electrolytes.

It is a fact that when people exercise and sweat they lose essential waters and nutrients from the body, so replacing them after exercise is essential for the body to function. When a person sweats they lose water from the blood, which is used to transport oxygen through the body. If the water is lost then the blood becomes thicker and is unable to transport the oxygen through this channel. This causes the body to dehydrate.

In recent years five runners have lost their lives because of this condition and did not properly replace essential salts after exercise.

By replacing lost salts after exercise this will ensure that the water is kept in the blood and the body can function at its best.

Salt Quality Assurance Scheme Set To Instil Customer Confidence And Raise Standards

The Salt Association has launched SaltAS, a quality assurance scheme for salt products, which aims to give confidence to specifiers and users that their salt supplies meet all relevant quality standards and conform to tender requirements.

Designed to cover every aspect of the entire salt supply chain from production to delivery, SaltAS will benefit everyone involved. Including SaltAS certification as a requirement in purchase and tender documentation will reduce the need for customers such as Local Authorities, Highways Agency Contractors and other users to provide more detailed specification and the need to carry out quality tests on their salt supplies. Equally, as far as salt hauliers contractors and storage facility operators are concerned, having SaltAS approval will recognise their quality systems, practices and disciplines and identify them as an integral part of the salt supply chain.

SaltAS has been developed in partnership with Kiwa PAI, part of the Kiwa Group, one of the UK’s leading independent testing, inspection and certification companies.

Peter Sherratt, Secretary of the Salt Association, which operates the scheme, says:

“UK salt producers supply 2-3 million tonnes of salt per year to industries ranging from food manufacturing and water softening to winter road maintenance. Anyone buying salt from a SaltAS certified supplier will have peace of mind knowing that their products meet the stringent demands of this scheme.”

SaltAS will become a recognised symbol of quality assurance for all salt products and will assure that all certified scheme members are working within a consistent, auditable framework which will raise standards across the whole industry.

Please see the SaltAS section of our website for further information regarding SaltAS and an application form or contact Sarah Easton at Kiwa PAI on 01423 878878 or enquiries@thepaigroup.com.

Salt for Winter Road Maintenance

gritting

Rock salt has kept our road network moving in ice and snow for half a century, and its still by far the best option for de-icing highways.

Autumn is the season for speculation and big headlines regarding what the weather will do over the winter period. Tabloid front pages claim: “Worst winter for decades: Record-breaking snow predicted. Arctic conditions will grip the country.”  We see similar headlines almost every year, but winter 2012/13, for example, ended up being only the 43rd coldest on record with an average temperature of 3.3C with flooding until the turn of the year. What the media often fail to explain is that, although previous records and long-term trends may suggest possible forecasts,  there is absolutely no certainty about what weather the UK will see over the winter period.

The science simply does not exist to make detailed, long-term forecasts for temperature and snowfall. And while we have seen a return to more normal, cooler temperatures over recent winters, it is no indication of what we can expect this year or when we might see snow. Ultimately, it is perfectly possible that we will see the whole range of weather that we get in winter at some point, including snow and freezing temperatures, but also heavy rain, windy weather and mild conditions too. It’s a bit of a lottery really; hence ­ just like a good boy scout ­ one should always be prepared.

And so, thank goodness for rock salt; ­ it’s kept our road network moving in ice and snow for half a century, and its still by far the best option for de-icing highways, which is why a major part of the salt industry is dedicated to the maintenance of roads and pavements.  The UK uses thousands of  tonnes of rock salt every year, capitalising not only on its antifreeze properties , but also its large granules, which can provide traction for vehicles’ tyres against existing ice. Of course, we still get caught out from time to time when the weather catches everyone by surprise, but if it were not for the mines and the salt supply chain things would be a whole lot worse. And yet, people still underestimate the importance and value of rock salt, while others arguably waste their time and money looking for alternatives.

Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with exploring options. People have tried everything from beet- juice, cheese brine, elephant dung and throwaway solubles from vodka manufacturing  – but rock salt not only remains the most effective form of de-icing material, it is also non-toxic and residual salt is gradually diluted and disposed of through natural processes. Rock salt is also the most economical and risk reducing strategic resource in winter maintenance and the economic value of keeping roads open and relatively safe in icy conditions using rock salt is widely acknowledged. If roads are not cleared, the impact of accidents and increased fuel consumption are likely to be as significant environmentally as they are in economic terms, let alone the human cost.

Norway’s “Salt SMART” is Good News for the Environment

A Norwegian task force looking at ways to minimize the environmental impact of keeping roads clear of snow & ice during the winter has positive news for the salt industry and environmental campaigners alike – gritting’s environmental impact is very small.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) is the governmental body responsible for the operation of Norway’s road network. As part of its objectives to develop an eco-friendly transport system it is looking at ways to minimize the environmental damage of its road gritting activities.

To that end, a recent research programme called “Salt SMART” examined the ways roads could be kept open and traffic safety maintained even during the harshest winter months without damaging the environment. They began their investigation with a literature review, as well as conducting new studies, to establish the damage that can be caused by salt to surface water, ground water and surrounding vegetation.

Their findings were extremely positive. Although they concluded gritting may result in changes to plankton populations, current road salting practices have not caused changes to the riverbed fauna and fish seemed unaffected. They also found no clear evidence that the grass and small roadside plants were affected by salt or additives in the salt. In addition they concluded the negligible damage caused by salting could be reduced by watering plants in the spring.

Finally, in an attempt to further their knowledge of the performance of salt and the characteristics of salt additives, the NPRA team conducted a further literature review. Based on the latest research on their respective environmental impact and effect on the roads, NPRA found no reason to recommend the use of salt additives or chemical alternative to salt.

So while they continue to look at ways to further improve efficiencies, the results of Salt SMART are good new for the industry and better news for the environment.

Preparations for Winter Road Maintenance Underway

With summer soon to be just a distant memory and winter fast approaching, preparations are being put into place to ensure adequate salt stock supplies for winter road maintenance. Recently Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker said: “The Department for Transport will continue to maintain a substantial national strategic salt reserve and have a robust distribution process in place, if this salt of last resort needs to be allocated.”

From the above and the findings of a recent salt audit undertaken by the Department it suggests that local highway authorities are prepared for wintery weather. Earlier this year road de-icing supplies held up well after a weekend of severe weather, marking a difference to 2010 and 2011 when heavy snow generated unparalleled demand for salt supplies. It seems though that this year the authorities will be repeating the same performance of maintaining our roads in wintery conditions that we saw early on in the year.

Authorities have already placed orders with salt supplies and have received stock, suggesting that the country is in a much better position than a few years ago when demand soared during record winters. Salt stock levels will be monitored on a monthly basis by the Department of Transport and the Highways Agency and the DfT will work closely with the Met Office to have the best advice available to prepare for severe winter weather.

Salt Association Secretary, Peter Sherratt commented “With the cost of delayed journeys due to snow to businesses and individuals estimated to be around £280m a day in England alone last year, it is essential that everything is done to keep our roads operating as efficiently and safely as possible this winter. ”

Salt Could Be Good For Us After All

According to a recent research project carried out by the Cochrane Collaboration, who are an international organisation that undertakes systematic reviews of evidence, has a story published on the NHS website that states that salt could actually do more good than harm.

The original story published on the Daily Express website suggests that salt in the diet can lessen our chances of suffering heart disease and strokes.

The study does not suggest that eating high levels of salt is good for us but simply that not getting enough could be just as bad, if not worse.

The research found that in white people with a normal blood pressure level, a low salt diet slightly reduced blood pressure and led to a small increase in substances such as cholesterol.

The research involved a systematic review of meta-analysis on 167 participants, where the effect of sodium intake on blood pressure, lipids and certain chemicals were recorded. Comparisons were taken between those with a low salt intake and those eating a higher amount of salt over a short period of time.

 

Peacock

Founded in 1874 by John Craig Peacock, Peacock started out as a shipping company agent in the heart of Glasgow and is now one of the largest food salt suppliers worldwide. Peacocks has a quayside facility for discharging ships of salt, on-site packaging facilities and bespoke mixing.

Winter salt spreader technology for seasonal maintenance is also a specialism for Peacock from road salt gritters to hand spreaders including all the latest GPS technology important for monitoring highway de-icing.

No matter what type of salt you need, whatever the application, Peacock Salt is there to help you get the best from our products. Please visit http://www.peacocksalt.com/index.aspx for more information.

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