Winter Risk Management
With the snow finally disappearing for the year, the summer months are a great time for commercial property managers to review their winter risk management plans. Assessing winter risk management plans in the warmer months will help streamline plans, improve performance, control costs, and better ensure the safety of visitors, staff, and the workers performing snow-related services. More importantly, summer gives managers an opportunity to identify these areas for improvement before winter returns.
The foundation of any effective winter risk management plan is risk identification. To put together an effective plan, a thorough site review or walk-through of the property needs to be conducted. The warm summer weather will make it easier to walk around and find possible issues that could be hiding under the snow and ice during winter. Make sure to inspect these key areas of your property:
1. Building Entrances
Exterior doorways are prime areas for slip-and-fall hazards. Managers should not ignore awnings and other door or window coverings, either. These areas can collect snow and create runoff that can refreeze after a snow event, creating hazardous conditions.
2. Walkways, Stairs, and Ramp
Any surface that customers, staff, or other individuals walk on will need to be kept clear of snow and ice to prevent hazardous conditions and liability concerns. Applying de-icer before a snow event starts is a great way to help prevent snow and ice from accumulating on these surfaces.
3. Parking Lots
Crews should keep curb lines and other obstructions, including fire hydrants and decorative structures, clear of snow and ice buildup. Making good notes of the layout of your lot will minimize the risk of damage to curbs, medians, or other structures.
The slope of the property can cause water to flow onto pedestrian areas and freeze. Identifying these areas is key to ensuring safety. Faulty building drainage and inoperable drains need to be identified as well so that they can be improved or repaired and minimize the risk of run-off water pooling up and freezing.
5. Snow Storage
Where to put all of the plowed snow also needs to be considered. It can take weeks or sometimes months for large snow piles to melt completely! Snow piles should be placed where they will not block driver or pedestrian visibility, or create slipping hazards from frozen run-off water. If the property does not have a suitable area for keeping all the plowed snow where it does not create any risk of liability, off-site snow removal should be considered.
Any damaged areas could indicate that changes are needed to your snow management plan to keep your property looking its best. For example, cracked sidewalks may be a result of run-off water that didn’t drain properly, and was able to freeze and thaw repeatedly over time, or grass and landscape damage can result from the overuse of deicers or improper snow storage.
RISK ANALYSIS – PRIORITIZE, PREPARE, AND BE READY TO RESPOND
After your commercial property has been thoroughly reviewed, you will be able to create a proper winter risk management plan that prioritizes the most heavily-trafficked areas of the property. Having these preparation and response strategies in place, and implementing them productively, will minimize liability risks and maximize the efficiency of the staff on hand. Ensuring that your winter risk management plan can stay within budget is also crucial. An efficient plan will control costs as well as possible, saving you money and the stress of going over-budget. By assessing risks, prioritizing the most important areas that need to be cared for, being prepared for a snow event beforehand, and being ready to respond as soon as possible, you can build an excellent winter risk management plan that will be efficient, cost-effective, and will maximize safety while mitigating risk and liability as much as possible.
Call Property Perfect today: (651) 777-7530.