While a “White Christmas” is often desired by the romantics among us and the royalty trusts of Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby, it can be a pain in the #$@ for a property owner. Unlike our brethren from the Upper Plains, Midwest and Mountain States, the Baltimore Washington Region was spared the white stuff this Christmas. However, based on the forecast it is likely not too far around the corner; thus it is time to talk to you about managing snow and ice on your property.
First and foremost is to have a plan of action. The attached document (Snow and Ice Removal Program Guidelines) from one of our insurance carrier partners, Accident Fund, is an excellent tool to guide you through this. Highlighting a few key points:
- Have something in writing to share with your employees and contractors.
- Make sure your equipment and materials are ready.
- Maintain a snow and ice log.
- Document all slips and falls.
I want to specifically emphasize the use of a snow and ice log. When maintained properly, it can be a good tool in the defense and mitigation of incidents claiming negligence in the management of snow and ice on your property. A sample log is attached from one of our other insurance carrier partners, Harleysville. I suggest you be as detailed as possible when completing the log including:
- Location – be as specific as possible
- Date and Time of activity, preferably beginning and end of activity
- The activity type
- Plow, shovel, etc.
- De-icer, sand, etc.
- Who performs the activity, to include contractors
- The amount of treatment used
- Weather activity at the time
Part of the plan that is often forgotten are the areas that often continue to thaw and refreeze after the initial snow or ice event. Note these areas in your plan.
Where possible make sure your snow piles are stored down the slope away from pedestrian and vehicle traffic to minimize issues related to the refreezing of the melting runoff.
Finally, document any known slip and fall incidents. Feel free to use the attached incident report. Take pictures where possible, and call Early, Cassidy & Schilling as soon as possible to report the incident.