Parking lot safety during winter is a major concern for small business owners. Icy walkways and snow-covered parking lots are a common occurrence in the Midwest and other regions. While everyone loves the occasional snow day, frozen precipitation on your property could cause a dangerous slip and fall accident involving a customer or employee.
Below are helpful winter safety tips for business parking lots. Remember, even the best safety plans are incomplete without a commercial insurance policy that has been tailored to your company and its location!
What is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents or “slip and falls” are a type of injury caused by an unexpected safety hazard, such as a patch of ice in a parking lot. Injuries can range from a scraped knee or broken arm to a traumatic brain injury — which is why it is so important for business owners in any industry to make safety the #1 priority.
Did You Know: More than a quarter of nonfatal work injuries (27%) in 2018 were related to slips, trips and falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Every business has unique safety concerns. For example, not all facilities have a parking lot, and a walkway or entrance may be shared between several tenants. Your specific obligations may also vary with state and local regulations, and whether your company property is owned or rented. Your insurance broker or legal professional can help you understand your areas of responsibility so you can develop a year-round safety plan.
When temperatures dip below freezing, use these safety tips to make sure employees and guests can travel to the indoors as safely as possible.
5 Tips to Make Your Parking Lot Safer in the Winter:
1. Be Aware of Potential Tripping Hazards
Tripping is not always the result of being distracted or clumsy. When it is snowing or sleeting, it can be very difficult to see an obstruction in the middle of a walkway.
Survey the area around your building and all entry and exit points to look for potential tripping hazards, which could include:
- Rugs and doormats
- Landscaping rocks or mulch
- Easels, chalkboards and other signage
- Electrical cords
- Pavement cracks
- Curbs, steps and other sudden changes in elevation
Business owners should take great care to reduce or remove tripping hazards. For permanent fixtures, such as a curb or doorstep, consider using signage and installing a handrail to help visitors navigate this area more safely.
2. Prepare for Inclement Weather
Before winter weather arrives, stock up on supplies to ensure you are prepared for any unexpected storms. A few helpful items to have on hand are a sturdy snow shovel, leaf rake, protective gloves, reflective safety vests, flashlights, batteries and a bag of ice melt.
If your boutique, restaurant or other local business does not have a large parking area, you may prefer to handle snow removal on your own. However, if you do not have the time or bandwidth to do this — or if you are responsible for a large outdoor area — it may be more effective to hire a licensed snow removal company to provide these services.
Property owners large and small have a legal obligation to maintain a safe environment for others and can be held liable for any accidents that occur on the property as a result of insufficient snow removal. It is critically important to hire a reputable company with adequate snow plow insurance.
3. Keep Up with Regular Maintenance
Encourage employees to speak up and help identify any potential safety concerns at your business (both inside and outside of the building!) If your commercial property is rented, report safety concerns to your landlord in a timely manner so repairs can be scheduled quickly. Look out for problem areas, such as:
- Cracked pavement and potholes
- Overgrown landscaping
- Dead trees or tree limbs
- Drainage issues, including any areas of standing water
- Chipping or faded paint on the parking lot
- Loose handrails or guardrails
4. Provide Adequate Lighting
Installing quality lighting outside of your local business and throughout the parking area adds more than curb appeal. These lights can help guests and employees travel more safely, both on foot and in their vehicles. Well-lit areas also offer a general sense of comfort for their potential to deter crimes, such as theft.
Keep an eye on lamp posts and outdoor lighting to watch for any burned-out light bulbs or other electrical concerns. Replace burned out lights in a timely manner.
5. Purchase Commercial Umbrella Insurance
Sometimes slip and fall accidents involve a few bumps and bruises and nothing more. But in a worst-case scenario, a slip and fall involving a traumatic injury could result in a lawsuit being filed against your company. This is why many business owners purchase an umbrella insurance policy.
Commercial umbrella insurance offers excess liability protection in the event of a lawsuit or other costly incident where general liability coverage may be insufficient. Speak with an insurance broker to find out if this coverage may be a good fit for your business.
Protect Your Business with a Policy from Webb Insurance
Don’t let the weather get you down. A customized business insurance policy from Webb Insurance offers the peace of mind in knowing your company has protection against the challenges of snow, ice and other winter perils. Webb Insurance is proud to support local businesses in the greater St. Charles area and beyond, and our team of agents will always be there for you to answer your questions and provide recommendations.
If you are a current Webb Insurance customer, contact our office to set up a business review with your agent to identify any potential coverage gaps.
For new inquiries, get a free quote for our business insurance to see how much you could save by switching to Webb Insurance.