Winter Liabilities: Parking Lot and Sidewalk Safety Strategies for Business Owners


kjhnioEveryone loves to see the snow fly. But, no one likes to be a victim of it.

For you, a business owner, you’re at a serious disadvantage. Not only do you have to deal with the normal hustle and bustle of running a business, you have to worry about the liability that comes with keeping your sidewalks and parking lot clean and safe for pedestrians. Here’s how to do that.

Know Whether You’re Responsible

Before the winter weather hits you, make sure you’re prepared. If you own a restaurant, bar, or any business where customers shop in your store, you’ll want to know who is responsible for keeping the sidewalk and pavement clean and ice-free.

Poor weather conditions usually lead to an increase in the number of slips and falls — especially during the wintertime. Keep your employees and guests, as well as outside vendors from getting injured by making sure that you de-ice the sidewalk outside of your establishment. Clear away snow promptly, and have the parking lot plowed or shoveled.

According to Greeley personal injury lawyer at the Sawaya Law firm, liability is an important factor when deciding how to handle clearance of walkways. If you’re legally responsible, and you don’t do it, you could be opening yourself up to a lawsuit.

Some businesses don’t realize this. They believe that their liability is limited to paying customers or people who enter their store. Not so. If you own the parking lot, or you are legally responsible for clearing walkways, then you are responsible for customers, and even non-customers, who slip and fall on the sidewalk.

Hire It Out

Hire a contractor to clean the sidewalks and walkways. A majority of large businesses and chains tend to do this because it shifts some of the burden and responsibility over to professionals. If you do this, make sure to find a reputable company far in advance of the season. The best companies tend to get booked up very fast and become unavailable as much as a few months before the season is in full swing.

If You Do The Job Yourself

Some small business owners like to do the job themselves, or they can’t afford to pay for professional snow removal. Make sure you keep a lot of ice melt (magnesium salt) on hand to melt the snow. You’ll want to keep an eye on weather reports so that you can put some down the night before. This will help prevent ice from forming in the first place.

Keep a shovel on-site, and designate an employee to come in when the flow flies to shovel the walkways. Make sure that you’re keeping a fresh layer of ice-melt down on the sidewalks and any area that you’re responsible for that customers are likely to be walking on.

This includes the parking lot. Many business owners forget about parking lots and assume they’re not responsible for them. If you lease your office or storefront, check with your lease to see who is responsible for ice and snow removal.

If you own the building, then obviously you’re responsible for making sure it’s safe.

Evan Dennis is an independent retailer, running a family business which has been passed down from Father to Son. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, and writes business articles aimed at small retailers.

Published by Kidal Delonix (930 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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