Tips for managing slips and falls during winter

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Old Man Winter has arrived in snow and ice-prone regions—perpetuating slips and falls by employees and visitors at commercial properties. Be prepared for the elements and protect your business from costly workers’ compensation and premises liability claims associated with winter weather tumbles.

 

  • Plan Ahead: Know if and when winter weather will strike your facilities, and communicate with employees or facilities managers about how to react.
  • Maintain Your Property: Beyond plowing, shoveling and de-icing the exterior, consider floor mats, warning signage, and persistently wiping wet spots on the interior. Consider any variables that might incite winter slips and falls.
  • Manage Vendors: Ensure a solid contract is in place with any snow-removal vendors regarding their scopes of work, along with any expectations about when they will service your property.
  • Promptly Report Incidents: Timely and accurate reporting are critical for preventing similar incidents, as well as protecting your business if a slip or fall becomes a claim or the subject of a lawsuit.

 

Keeping up with a winter hazard preparedness plan can be a challenge, especially if you have multiple facilities spread all over the country. A risk management information system (RMIS) can help streamline many of these tasks, however.

With an RMIS you can track severe weather alerts that may impact your facilities in real time. The system will automatically e-mail you in the event winter weather bears down on any locations established within your system. With real-time information at your fingertips—and without the burden of constant monitoring—you can deploy your winter-hazard preparedness plan without delay.

An RMIS can also help ensure your choice snow removal vendor’s certificates of insurance are as up-to date as the weather. Otherwise, if an uninsured vendor’s employee gets hurt winterizing your property or damages your property with snow removal equipment, the burden of costs might fall on you.

Because so many slip and fall incidents occur in icy parking garages or parking lots—away from a desktop computer—RMIS mobile incident entry tools can make it easier to document such instances from the field. Further, if necessary, a claim file can easily be created from an incident record in an RMIS. All incident data will automatically pre-populate in the newly created claim file, reducing duplicative data entry.

Finally, an RMIS will allow you to track slip and fall claims data alongside data from your winter hazard maintenance log—offering a rich picture of how maintenance activity, or perhaps inactivity, correlates with winter slips and falls.

For instance, you can assess whether a slip and fall incident occurred at a time when maintenance was deferred or in a location where risk mitigation solutions had yet to be implemented. This helps uncover trends as to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to combatting the elements at properties.

Don’t let Old Man Winter rain (or sleet, or ice or snow) on your parade. Take precautions to protect your employees or property visitors from winter-related slips and falls. As a result, your business will be better protected, too.