Winter Weather Hazards
While we all enjoy living in a winter wonderland for the holidays and taking advantage of the snow to ski and sled, the cold weather can pose a threat to business owners. Take a look at what weather hazards to watch out for this season to keep your employees safe and your customers happy.
The snow may be pretty to watch, but it sure isn’t fun to walk in. From icy parking lots and sidewalks to slippery floors inside of your business, one of the top risks to look out for is slips and falls. Did you know that the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims come from slips and falls? If a customer or employee slips on your business’ property, you could be held liable for the medical bill.
How do you know if you’re held liable for a slip and fall? There is no one way to determine when a business owner is legally responsible for a customer’s injuries in a slip and fall accident. A general rule of thumb is that the person injured must prove that the cause of their slip and fall was a “dangerous” condition that the property owner knew about. In simpler terms, the person injured must prove that the owner created the condition or knew about it and refused to fix it (salting the sidewalk, mopping the wet floor, etc.).
How to manage it: make sure you’re thoroughly shoveling and salting your patio, sidewalk, and parking lot. It’s important to stay on top of mopping the floor from the melted snow, dirt, and slush your customers bring inside of your establishment.
Roof and Structure Damage
In cases of an extreme blizzard, your roof can be put under a lot of stress. Two feet of wet snow is equal to about 19 tons of weight. It’s especially important to monitor if your business has a flat or low-pitched roof. Are these damages covered by insurance? Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover damages that are directly caused by wind damage from a snowstorm, snow accumulation, or displacement due to a power outage. Be sure you know the language of your policy to insure you have adequate coverage.
How to manage it: remove the snow as it builds up and watch the weather during peak snow storm season. If it appears several storms will be hitting close together, it might be best to manage the snow yourself to avoid excessive snow and ice build up. Of course, only take these matters into your hands if it can be done safely.
Frozen and Burst Pipes
When pipes freeze in the winter, they often burst as a result of built-up pressure frozen water puts on them. Not only is this a costly property damage loss, but it can take days to recover. Water damage and freezing is the second most common home insurance claim. Find out if your homeowner’s insurance will cover this kind of damage. Insurance policies only cover frozen pipes if heat has been maintained adequately in the building. If a furnace breaks, that’s one thing, but if it’s turned off or turned down too low, water damage resulting from frozen pipes is not covered. There are also ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.
How to manage it: make sure to properly insulate your pipes, especially if they run through unheated areas of your building. You can also keep cabinet doors open or even let the faucets drip to keep water flowing.
It is important to check with your agent to verify your home-based office and business equipment are protected if you operate any part of your business out of your home. Remember, most homeowners’ policies exclude damage to business property, so you may need a commercial policy.
‘Tis the season for sniffles and coughs. During the winter months, cold and flu can spread like wildfire, making it one of the top winter risks. Another risk this season is COVID-19. Sickness can not only negatively impact your business’ employees, but it can also impact your customers from shopping.
How to manage it: if someone is showing signs of illness, have them go home to prevent the spread. Employers should check with the CDC or their State’s health department for information to protect their employees/customers in the event of a known exposure to COVID-19.
The good news is, a lot of these risks can be easily taken care of with a little planning. Thinking ahead and tackling these problems before they happen will keep your employees, your customers, and your business happy. If you’re not sure whether or not your property is covered from these risks, call us today! 262-696-5800