Step Up Risk Management Efforts During The Winter Months
The first two months of 2019 have brought above-average levels of snow, ice, and rain to many areas of the country. If your self-storage clients have not yet gotten serious about cold-weather preparation and risk management at their facilities, it’s time for them to get busy. Winterizing a facility can help to minimize costly claims and damage to property and systems as well as reduce the chances of bodily 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 a self-storage operation’s employees and customers.
During the winter months, it is wise to increase the number of daily premise inspections. More frequent inspections will enhance the staff’s ability to identify potential hazards quickly as weather conditions change. Extra attention should be paid to surfaces that may become wet or icy. Use entryway mats on interior floors, and sand or kitty litter should be spread on outdoor walkways to increase traction. If a hazard is identified, the manager should alert customers and staff by setting out safety cones, “wet floor” signs, or other devices. Keep in mind that snow accumulation can obscure tripping hazards such as construction materials, uneven ground, and parking blocks.
During these inspections, facility staff need to 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. You may wish to advise your clients to send a reminder to tenants via mail or email that the storage and use of flammable materials is prohibited at the facility. Facility staff should be sure to thoroughly document each inspection 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.
Slips, Trips, And Falls
Snow, ice, and rain can mean slippery walkways, wet floors, and treacherous footing. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that 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 to help reduce these risks at self-storage properties. The video is available at www.minico.com/safetyvideos.
It is advisable for self-storage operations 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. Your self-storage clients should request documentation of evidence of insurance and keep a copy with other important insurance documents. You may also wish to advise your clients to have you review any contract, specifically as it pertains to insurance requirements and hold-harmless clauses.
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