During the winter months, rain, sleet, and snow can make your business’s grounds slippery and difficult to navigate for employees, customers, and other visitors. While your business may not be responsible for fall-related injuries that occur on a public sidewalk, you may be liable for injuries that occur on walkways that are solely used to enter or leave your business. Proper snow and ice removal is an important way to reduce the likelihood of slips, falls, and related injuries.
1. Have a plan.
- Determine who is responsible for snow and ice removal. You may delegate this responsibility to internal facility, custodial, or ground maintenance staff, or contract with an external service.
- Clearly outline activities, timing, and what equipment and supplies to use.
- Confirm personnel are trained on how to maintain walkways, safely operate equipment (such as snowblowers or plows), and store and handle chemicals.
2. Properly remove ice and snow.
- Apply deicing chemicals, such as rock salt or ice melt, before the storm.
- Plow and shovel during and after the storm.
- Reapply ample amounts of de-icing chemicals to limit the formation of ice.
- Apply a friction additive, such as sand, to sidewalks, parking lots, and other walkways to create better traction for pedestrians.
- Remove snow from the premises or move it to a location where it does not block walkways, entrances, external vents, drains, or outside equipment.
3. Treat surfaces regularly.
- Check and treat surfaces regularly during the storm.
- Reapply appropriate de-icers specifically in the morning before employees and customers arrive, as wet surfaces can become icy overnight.
- Check near and around snow piles where melting may cause new slippery areas.
- Reevaluate surfaces throughout the day and continue to treat until all precipitation is evaporated and pavement is dry.
4. Don’t neglect your entryways.
The risk of slips and falls does not end once someone enters your building. Snow, ice, and water from boots, hats, umbrellas, and other items can also create slipping hazards inside your property.
- Install a canopy to limit an external entrance’s exposure to the elements.
- Use entrance matting to absorb mud, ice, and snow.
- Assign a designated area or provide bags to store wet items.
- Apply appropriate signage to indicate wet floors.
- Immediately mop and dry any moisture tracked indoors.