In prior winters, the most costly Owner/Operator claims occurred from employees slipping and falling on snow and ice in the parking lot. The first claim involved a Crew Member who slipped and fell while walking towards the building from their car. The employee suffered a broken leg which resulted in lost time away from work. Another claim involved a manager who went out to pick up some papers from his/her vehicle, slipped and fell, resulting in a serious arm injury.
Protecting your crew members and customers from injuries, both inside and outside of your stores should be top priority. One version of the Safety and Security manual stated:
‘Sidewalks in particular should have a good covering of ice melt, salt, or sand to prevent ice build-up and assist walking. Even a thin layer of ice in front of the doors or on the parking lot can be dangerous. After the lot is plowed and the walkways shoveled or swept, spread ice melt on outside customer areas. This will melt the remaining thin layer of snow left by the snowplow and any ice or s
Keep wheelchair-accessible parking spaces, access aisles, and curb ramps clear of snow and ice. Do not pile snow in the wheelchair-accessible parking spaces or access aisles left after shoveling.’
Also, roof snow is addressed in the Safety and Security manual. Here, the manual states:
Use a snow puller to remove snow build-up on the sloping section of the roof. This is crucial after a heavy snowfall. Not removing heavy snow can cause unsafe conditions:
Icicles will form on the overhang and can break loose and become a hazard.
An entire section of snow can break loose and fall on someone.
The continual dripping of melting snow on the walkways can freeze into slippery spots.
A few simple actions on your part can help prevent these costly injuries to your crew members, and customers. Here are some steps, plus preparation items, to help keep your stores safe:
Arrange to have snow and ice removed as soon as possible. Maintaining a snow removal log can help to monitor quality, and demonstrate your efforts should litigation occur as the result of a claim.
Keep a supply of ice melt and/or sand readily available. Use it!
Designate a person to walk the parking lot on a regular schedule to check for hazardous areas. Sidewalks, entries, and paths to the dumpster should be a focus.
Monitor weather forecasts, and be prepared.
Note – One 2010 court case ruled that ‘natural accumulation’ is no longer a valid defense against slip and fall claims. Also, if you contract out snow removal, always ensure you have proper contracts in place. Hold harmless clauses, work comp verification, indemnification clauses, insurance requirements and limits, additional insured status, are all a necessary part of any work that is sub contracted out.
Do not wait until you have a costly claim. Protect your Crew Members and Customers now.