Winter Power Cuts 2023

Advice on how to protect your businesses in the event of a potential power outage.

There has been widespread media coverage speculating whether Great Britain could possibly experience power cuts this winter due to the ongoing energy crisis. Many individuals and businesses have taken steps to ensure they are equipped should they be affected by a power cut due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. National Grid – which keeps the lights on in England, Scotland and Wales - states in its winter outlook report 2022 that:

“The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and the resultant reduction in gas supplies to EU countries, has created unprecedented uncertainty for energy markets.”*

National Grid’s core view is that there will be enough energy to provide Britain with similar levels of power to previous winters.  A severe cold snap could potentially cause disruption however, so making sure your business is ready to cope is vital.

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Commercial impact of power cuts

Power cuts can sometimes happen due to severe weather events such as high winds bringing down power lines. So regardless of the current energy crisis, it is worth considering the substantial impact a power cut could have on your business:

  • Disruption to telephone and IT infrastructure
  • An increase in safety risks for staff, visitors and customers
  • Risk of fire and security protection failure
  • Increase of crime due to security failure
  • Reduction in support to clients
  • Trading and manufacturing disruption
  • Potential damage to plant equipment and processes

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Pre-planning procedures

There are important precautions businesses can take to ensure they are prepared in the event of a power cut:

  • Refer to local information in regard to blackouts in your area
  • Consider changing operational opening hours in order to reduce impact
  • Review, amend and communicate emergency action plans
  • Review business continuity / recovery plans (alternative electric supply)
  • Review safe close and start up procedures for equipment and processes
  • Risk assessments required for key holders attending the site during a power outage
  • Record and update individual roles and responsibilities to be implemented during a power outage

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Planned preventative maintenance

Businesses should have a planned schedule to maintain and test services and equipment in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations to ensure safe start up and shut down procedures. This includes:

  • Passenger lifts
  • UPS – Uninterrupted Power Supply
  • Process equipment – automatic switch over to back up power supply
  • Emergency lighting
  • Utilities- electrical installations – boilers – refrigeration units
  • Sprinkler systems (pumps)
  • Intruder alarms
  • Automatic fire alarms

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Temporary emergency electrical supply

In the event of a power cut there are temporary measures a business could take:

  • Consider hiring a temporary generator
  • Consider installing an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) for critical equipment or IT facilities
  • Risk assessments should be undertaken for temporary generators or additional fuel brought on site
  • Ensure procedures and training are in place to close down equipment or back up data prior to a power outage and before any emergency generator or UPS system expires

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Critical and vulnerable equipment

Review, plan and document the safe and controlled shutdown procedures for equipment:

  • Passenger lifts- stop use in advance of planned power cuts
  • Cold store freezers and refrigerators – minimize opening and reduce temperature setting 12 hours prior to a power cut if possible
  • Ensure the safe shut down and start up sequences of all plant equipment are documented and appropriate training to key personnel is recorded
  • Switch off non-essential equipment where possible to avoid power surge on the resumption of the electrical supply
  • Consideration for electric vehicles – no power points available during power outage
  • Leave one light on to show when the power has been restored

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IT and communications

A power cut doesn’t have to mean disaster if appropriate plans are in place for IT and communications. Maintaining contact with colleagues, clients and stakeholders will be a key point to consider in a business continuity plan. Considerations include:

  • Review communications across the business (IT mobile networks)
  • Review back up data for computers and file servers
  • Review data storage suppliers and assess the impact on their service and plans for resumption of service
  • Mobile phones and networks. Consider multi network providers
  • Keep all mobile numbers fully charged when power is available
  • Use power banks to keep mobile phones charged
  • Purchase fresh supply of batteries (torches, radios etc.)

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Heating and lighting

Power outages will impact heating (oil/gas/LPG) as pumps and fans will be electrically powered. A business continuity plan might recommend:

  • Ensure battery powered torches and lanterns are in good working order
  • Candles should not be used due to the fire hazard posed
  • Use of portable heating should be subject to a risk assessment prior to use. Consideration for safe storage of additional heaters – fuel on site
  • Battery powered CO2 detectors should be installed in rooms where combustible heaters or solid fuel fires are used

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Fire and safety equipment

  • Ensure all emergency lighting systems are functioning and remember batteries will require time to re charge on resumption of power
  • Ensure the intruder and fire alarm back up supply batteries are fully functional and power duration is adequate for the site
  • Intruder alarms should provide 12 hours battery life. Fire alarms should provide 24 hour back up battery life
  • Review sprinkler system and back-up systems – if applicable
  • Consider access control measures and areas that can be unsecure
  • Review impact on CCTV and external lighting. Consider on site security during power outages

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General workplace hazards

  • Consider staff and visitors movement on site with no internal or external lighting
  • Consider spillages on floors from isolated equipment during power outage
  • Consider all areas restricted and out of bounds during power outage
  • Review slip and trip risk assessments during outage period


Ensuring a business continuity plan is in place is key to a commercial organisation ensuring it can continue to function, should any unforeseen circumstances arise, such as a power cut. These can be complex and time consuming for businesses to create. Towergate’s Risk Managers can advise and produce the support systems tailored to your needs.


Towergate’s specialist Risk Management Consultancy service helps deliver reduced costs and increased safety, and ensures you receive outstanding cover and competitive premiums from our insurer partners. For more information contact your Towergate representative.