Winter is here! Are you prepared to control snow and ice hazards? As snow and ice accumulate on sidewalks and in parking areas, the slip-and-fall potential increases. The first step is to develop and implement a written plan assigning responsibilities for selecting snow-removal contractors, determining and documenting the frequency of snow and ice removal, and use of sand and calcium chloride. Procedures for prompt and detailed reporting of claims should also be covered.
Gunn-Mowery recommends the following points should be included in your snow removal plan:
- Establish a written contract with a professional snow removal company that names your operation as an additional insured on the contractor’s liability insurance policy. Use the same contractor to plow the sidewalks and parking areas to avoid split responsibility. The contract should include sanding and salting, regular checks on the property, and 24-hour on-call service.
- Identify designated areas away from entrances, sidewalks, and walkways where the contractor can stack plowed snow to minimize thawing and freezing ice patches.
- Contracts usually call for snow removal by the contractor when the snow accumulation reaches 2″. Therefore, a contingency plan for snowfalls of less than 2″ should be in place. Shovels, snow blowers, sand, and salt or calcium chloride should be conveniently available on the property and people assigned to the task.
- Consider the type of treatment for the surface conditions. Calcium chloride is more effective than rock salt in extreme cold. It is also less damaging to plants and soil.
- Designate an individual to monitor forecasts and temperatures, walking surface conditions, effectiveness of snow/ice removal practices, and the completion of accident reports. This individual should be equipped with a camera to photograph the area in question immediately after any slip-and-fall incident. This individual should also monitor the plowing and sanding/salting completed by the contractor.
- As a precaution against lawsuits, record when and what action is taken (used plow, applied salt, etc.). Include information such as estimated snowfall amount, ice buildup, temperature, and unusual conditions. All reports should include the name of the recorder. You should also preserve all itemized statements of work performed by the contractor.
- Post appropriate warning signs or block off high-hazard areas such as downspouts that allow water to run across the sidewalks and depressions that result in ice puddles.
- Monitor exterior lighting. During the winter season, lights are usually on for longer periods of time, which can result in the need for more frequent bulb replacement. Good lighting is important in that snow and ice hazards are more readily observed and black ice will shimmer during dawn and dusk periods.
- Monitor the condition of floor mats and floors inside of the building as they can contribute to the slip-and-fall potential during bad weather. Mats should be kept dry and recycled frequently. The floors should be kept dry with regular mopping.
Strategy and planning is key to minimizing the slip-and-fall potential, as well as defending snow- and ice-related claims. This proactive approach will be viewed favorably by the general public, visitors to the premises, and other local businesses.
If you’d like more details on how to control your business’s risks, contact Gunn-Mowery’s risk management specialist today.