As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your employees and customers safe. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts to take precautions, accidents can still happen in the workplace, and if you’re at fault, the cost of medical bills, repairs, and more can quickly add up.
While employees are typically covered for their injuries by workers’ compensation, lawsuits filed by visitors who are injured in an accident can be costly.
The best thing that a business owner can do is have a plan to address anything that could be a potential hazard. Having a plan to maintain property and limit exposure to your customers will greatly reduce the chances of an injury. Below is a review of some common exposures and what can be done to reduce your risk.
Slip and Falls
One of most common accidents that result in premises liability lawsuits are slip-and-falls. This is a term used by personal injury attorneys in cases in which an individual slips or trips and falls on the premises and the business owner is liable. These accidents arise from a variety of dangerous conditions such as wet floors, torn carpeting, poor lighting, cluttered aisles or other hazards inside the building. In addition, injuries can also occur outside when visitors slip and fall in the parking lot because of rain, ice or snow, and other hazards, or trip on cracked public sidewalks.
In North Dakota, for a greater part of the year we all have to deal with snow and ice. While it is nearly impossible to remove 100% of all the risk our weather brings, make sure you have a plan to address accessible areas outside of your business.
· Have a plan to address snowfall both during and after a snowfall event, even if the snow is light. Light snow can become very slippery quickly. Clear or sweep any light snow away from the entry to your property and areas where customers are likely to walk.
· Use salt products to slowly melt the remaining ice and snow buildup, but monitor for re-freezing. It is also a good idea to have some sand or light gravel to put down during extreme cold where salt may not work. The sand will give added traction to icy areas.
It is also important to inspect and repair any areas where a person could trip and fall. For example, make necessary repairs to concrete sidewalks leading up and outside your property.
And furthermore, preventing slip and falls applies to the areas inside your business where customers may walk.
· Make sure areas are regularly kept free of water and snow that may be tracked in.
· Place rugs in areas where people may gather and frequently walk. Make sure those rugs are of good quality and weight, so they lay flat and don’t become a hazard with upturned edges or buckling.
Keeping customers safe inside your business
While slip and falls can occur both inside and outside your business, there are other things to consider when a customer is inside your business when it comes to preventing an injury.
· Limit access for customers to areas where things could be unsafe. An example would be where an auto repair business does not allow customers into the service bay areas. Place signage and make sure employees are diligent in keeping a customer out of an area where the possibility of injury is enhanced.
· Look for areas inside your business where customers may reach for a product on a high shelf or a display could collapse if accidently bumped. Make sure employees are trained to warn and then assist customers with those hard to reach products.
· Document inspections and keep a record of repairs. Doing this may not prevent an injury, but can prove that you are meticulous with safety and help defend you if an incident occurs.
Claims arising from business liability incidents can be costly. General liability insurance can cover the medical expenses for a customer who is injured on your premises or at your worksite. It can also provide means for a legal defense if that customer decides to sue. Contact your Nodak Insurance agent to discuss your business owner’s coverage to make sure you are protected before any claims arise.