Winter Weather Has Arrived
Real Estate Owners and Property Managers Need a Risk Management Plan to Deal With It.
By Lisa Hartman
The best risk management practice for real estate owners and property managers to reduce costly accidents on their property caused by inclement winter weather is the execution of a proactive written program designed to control or eliminate losses from slips and falls on the premises.
Winter storms can be messy, unpredictable, and severe and injuries caused by slipping and falling on snow and ice can be expensive and, sometimes even tragic, for property owners and managers. The success of any legal defense against claims arising from such injuries occurring on your property depends to a great extent on the specific policies and procedures you have in place to protect against hazardous winter conditions. Consequently, it is important to develop written guidelines that all staff have certified they have read and understood and to monitor compliance on a regular basis.
At a minimum the following should be part of your winter loss mitigation program:
Identify areas on your property that are known to become icy and treat them frequently, especially entrance ways, parking lots, walkways, stairs and ramps.
If there are especially icy spots, place warning signs identifying the hazard.
Document all sanding, salting and snow removal efforts on a maintenance or "sweep" log.
Your mitigation program should address hazards both outside (due to snow, ice, melting and water removal) and inside (from people tracking in water).
Start executing your mitigation operations as soon as possible during and after severe weather.
Whenever possible, hire a contractor for snow removal and utilize a written contract that transfers liability to them. It is important to obtain evidence from the contractor that it has adequate insurance to cover any losses from claims that may arise.
Record every incident that occurs on your premises and review these reports to establish if any trends are evident.
These proactive, preventative measures will not only prevent slip and fall incidents; they will reduce the cost of any claims that may occur.