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    Winter Safety: How to prepare your business

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    You owe your customers, clients, and third parties a “duty of care” as a business owner. This duty means you owe people reasonable care while performing acts that could cause foreseeable harm. For example, suppose your run a restaurant. Preventing foreseeable harm would include preventing guests from touching hot stovetops or pots.

    If you don’t take steps to prevent such harm, customers, clients, and third parties might have the right to sue you.

    This duty of care is vital for small business owners, especially in the winter. When people visit your retail store or office, there’s the foreseeable harm that they might slip on an icy sidewalk or wet floor and hurt themselves.

    This article discusses some tips to make your business safer for the winter season so that people can visit your business injury-free.

    Clear snow and ice

    Snow and ice are some of the most significant hazards in the winter. Even with the proper winter boots, troublesome patches of ice can cause hordes of passersby to slip. Some might have an embarrassing moment, but others may suffer painful injuries.

    It’s crucial to keep your business area ice and snow-free to prevent these slips. This means prompt snow removal after a snowfall and plenty of salt to chip away at ice patches. Such actions increase the overall safety for you, employees, and client and customers.

    Put down absorbent floor carpets and mats

    Outdoor snow and ice can cause visitors to bring in heaps of slush and water, making your floors slippery. Absorbent mats and carpets can soak in some of this water. Although it won’t completely make your office or storefront slush-free, it’s a good precautionary measure to prevent slipping, which could lead to injury and a lawsuit against your business.

    However, with all the water these mats take in, it’s essential to change and wash them regularly. Otherwise, it may result in odours and unsanitary conditions. Some companies (discussed below) specialize in ensuring your mats are routinely changed so you can focus on your business and not winter hazard prevention.

    Prepare caution signs and regular maintenance in troublesome spots 

    In the summer, you only need to whip out the wet floor signs after someone mops. But you may need a permanent wet floor sign for high-traffic areas, such as your lobby, entranceway, or waiting room, in the winter. Depending on the amount of traffic you receive, absorbent mats may not be enough to keep a floor dry and safe. That’s why it’s ideal to provide visual warnings as well.

    Additionally, if you know that an area constantly creates a slipping hazard, you could have an employee or maintenance person mop it regularly. This can minimize the chance that someone faces bodily harm at your place of business.

    Call a winter maintenance professional 

    Some small businesses specialize in getting your company winter-ready. Their services could include:

    • Setting up absorbent mats and carpets in high-traffic areas and ensuring they’re sanitary

    • Removing snow and ice

    • Signalling other winter hazards to watch for

    Employing a winter maintenance professional is excellent for organizations that don’t want to worry about managing winter’s problems.

    Review your insurance

    Winter is lastly a time to review your insurance. As mentioned prior, a person who slips on an icy sidewalk or a slippery floor on your business property could give them a right to sue you. It’s essential to review your general liability insurance policy to make sure it accommodates such an unfortunate (but often too real) situation.

    Need general liability insurance? Get it here >>

    Then, if your preventive measures fail, you won’t be liable to litigation costs or damage awards. Your insurance will be there to protect your business.

    Winter means winter sports, the holiday season, and hot chocolate! But it also brings many hazards to your business. Take the correct measures to prevent injury in your workplace and ensure everyone’s safety.

    Related: Getting your home ready for winter

    Originally published November 25, 2021, updated September 5, 2023

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