Plan Ahead for Winter Weather to Mitigate Potential Risks
The end of the year is here, and winter storms are on the way in many areas. The time has come for self-storage facility owners to prepare for the colder months ahead. Winterizing a facility can help to minimize costly claims and damage to property and systems as well as reduce the chances of personal injury due to slip-and-fall events and exposure to extreme temperatures. Following good risk management practices can help ensure a safer winter season for both employees and customers.
Increase Daily Inspections
The winter months are a good time to pick up the pace on daily property inspections. Increasing the number of property inspections each day will enhance the ability to identify potential hazards quickly as weather conditions change. Extra attention should be given to surfaces that may become wet or icy. The use of entryway mats on interior floors and spreading sand or kitty litter on outdoor walkways can increase traction. If a hazard is identified, customers and staff should be alerted by setting out safety cones, “wet floor” signs, or other devices. It is important to remember that snow accumulation can obscure tripping hazards such as construction materials, uneven ground, and parking blocks.
During these inspections, managers should be on the lookout for lease violations, particularly those involving the use of items that may be flammable such as candles, space heaters, and lanterns. It’s a good idea to send a reminder to tenants via mail or email that the storage and use of flammable materials is prohibited at the facility. Each inspection needs to be thoroughly documented including the date, time, and actions taken. In the event of an insurance claim or lawsuit, this information can demonstrate a consistent effort to mitigate risk.
Reduce the Risk of Slips, Trips, And Falls
Winter weather brings colder temperatures and often snow and ice. At a self-storage facility, that can mean slippery walkways, wet floors, and treacherous footing. Factor in the increased foot traffic due to holiday-related storage activities, and it’s easy to see why claims resulting from slips, trips, and falls tend to increase during winter months. These claims can be extremely costly if negligence is determined. However, slip-and-fall claims can be mitigated through regular removal of snow and ice as well as rigorous daily inspections. MiniCo’s short video entitled “Preventing Slips, Trips, And Falls,” provides detailed information for self-storage operators. The video is available at www.minico.com/safetyvideos.
Hire A Snow-Removal Company
Self-storage business owners may wish to consider contracting with a reputable, insured, and licensed snow-removal company. These companies contract with businesses to remove snow and ice from walkways, driveways, aisles, stairways, and rooftops as outlined in the terms and conditions of a written contract, for example, whenever at least two inches of snow have accumulated. The business owner should request documentation of evidence of insurance and keep a copy with the facility’s written risk management plan. An insurance agent should review any contract, specifically as it pertains to insurance requirements and hold-harmless clauses.
MiniCo sends our best wishes to you and your loved ones during this holiday season. We look forward to working with you in 2018 and thank you for your business and continued support of MiniCo’s insurance products and publications.
President and CEO