With Winter upon us, we face new outdoor challenges. Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures can create dangerous conditions that put your business at risk. Proper utilization of commercial ice management can help reduce liability by eliminating slip and fall hazards.
When the weathermen predict a snow storm, we drag out the salt and sand and generously treat our parking lots, steps, and walkways. We dig out the shovels and call in the snow plows. We usually have a plan for snow. Ironically, it isn’t the snow that presents the biggest liability risk for business owners.
The Hidden Risks of Ice
You tend to pay less attention to those little puddles and wet spots on your property. Those puddles and wet spots can become treacherous spots of liability when the temperatures drop. Freezing temperatures, especially without snow, can create an ice hazard that you may not notice. Many of us suffer from what one expert calls “Snow Bias,” the tendency to treat our property for snow, while neglecting to treat for ice.
The Potential Costs of Ice
Patches of ice, hidden or visible, can be an expensive problem for business owners. Slips and falls are a real risk. According to the CDC, unintentional falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all ages except 15-14-year-olds (where it is the second leading cause).
For the five-year period of 2001 to 2015 more than one and a quarter million people were hospitalized for injuries related to a fall. The cost of treatment for falls is among the most expensive medical conditions. Every year more than 800,000 people are hospitalized due to fall injury.
The cost per slip and fall injury for a customer visiting your business can be quite high. According to The Hartford Report, customer slip and fall claims average a payout of $20,000 to $75,000. The number increases when lawyers get involved; you can imagine the costs can approach astronomical. You can avoid these high claims costs by preventing slips and falls due to ice.
In addition, slips and falls are not limited to your customers. The Insurance Information Institute states that 29 percent of all workers compensation claims are related to slip and fall injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics records indicate that in 2014, alone, there were 34,860 workers compensation claims due specifically to slips and falls related to ice, sleet, and snow.
If each of these cases resulted in the typical $30,000 claim plus lost time at work, then you can see that the cost of prevention of ice-caused falls is well under the costs of allowing those accidents to happen.
Do You Have Insurance?
It is true that you carry liability and worker’s compensation insurance for just these reasons. It is true that your insurance will cover the largest portion of those claims. It is also true that your insurance company may increase your premiums, in part due to claims like these. Save yourself the headache and cost of dealing with these claims, and dealing with the insurance paperwork, by preventing slips and falls due to ice.
Make Prevention a Priority
There is a reason for the well-known saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventing mishaps, for employees and customers, should be a priority for your business. The cost of preventing an ice or snow incident at your business is well below the cost of a claim, from either a customer or an employee. The expense of a snow and ice management plan is far below the expenses you could face with lost customers, lost employees, and lost money.
While “you can’t fool Mother Nature,” you don’t have to become a victim of her tricks. A snow and ice management plan is the way to protect your business from the dangers of winter weather trickery.