An average snowstorm has economic implications exceeding $1 billion. In 2018, US winter storms caused $3.3 billion in damages and 33 deaths, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In November 2019, the Arctic blast that hit the United States affected over 200 million Americans.
Winter can negatively affect your employees’ and customers’ health, which can impact business. Apart from winter-related illnesses and injuries, it is important to understand how winter impacts your business and establish standards to ensure business continuity, productivity, and safety.
Now Is the Time to Start Planning
Cozy gatherings indoors, and a parade of holidays may inspire images of a Norman Rockwell painting during winter. But the cold hard truth is winter weather hurts your business. However, you can plan for snow and ice removal well in advance. Among the things to check on include, but are not limited to:
- Downspouts and gutters are clean and in good condition.
- Drainage from gutters and downspouts should be away from sidewalk surfaces, such as parking lots.
- Ensure that the exterior steps and stairs are secure, non-slip, and not deteriorating.
- Tripping hazards need to be identified on sidewalks and walkways.
- Also, inspect low spots on sidewalks and walkways. They are prone to icing during a freezing/thawing cycle.
- Parking lots need to be inspected for their condition, low spots, and drainage.
You should closely monitor areas most frequently used by pedestrians and vehicles and those with a history of known problems. For example:
- Poorly draining areas or low spots
- Outside handrails
- Especially watch out for black ice on pavement and walkways.
Make Sure Your Parking Lot is in Good Shape
Ice and snow aren’t just a problem on your roof. Parking lots and sidewalks can get a snow cover too, which can disrupt business operations and interfere with public safety. You must ensure safety standards on your premises for your employees and customers during a winter storm if it isn’t severe enough to force your business to shut down.
The first step to ensuring that people can safely park and drive their vehicles is to clear the snow and ice on the parking lot.
It Should be Walkable
Ice can cause formation on parking lots and sidewalks during the winter months, posing many challenges for businesses. Even if your business is closed for the day, ice presents a huge liability risk in these areas. Anyone slipping and falling on ice on your business’ property might sue you for causing damages. Salt your property regularly and early.
Treat any paved surfaces on your business premises during the warm season before adverse weather moving in. Once the cold weather arrives, slough and salt all surfaces as soon as the weather permits. You can undoubtedly salt and scrape your parking lot yourself if your lot is not very large — but anything larger will require you to hire someone to do the work for you. The expense is well worth it.
If your business has a huge parking lot, stop signs are essential. It’s not uncommon for people to be in a hurry or cannot pay attention when they should be stopping. These “STOP” signs protect pedestrians and other drivers who see them. It facilitates better traffic flow if several people leave the parking lot, preventing any delays and accidents.
A Bird’s-eye View
Install several security cameras to capture the parking lot at all times if your best winter preparations are not enough. You can then refer to the video in the later stages if an accident occurs and explain it to the insurance companies and police officers. This will protect you from being held responsible for something that wasn’t your fault, and you will know what changes to make to keep your parking lot safe.
Will You Need Plows or Shovels?
Most Americans find it easier to manage inclement winter weather by hiring a professional to remove snow. Professionals can successfully remove snow by employing a range of tools. Still, many Americans prefer to do the job themselves. The tools most commonly used to do so are shovels and plows. What is the best method for clearing snow? We’ll explain.
When vehicles and machines cannot reach a small area, shoveling is best. Sometimes drifting snow accumulates in piles at your entrance, for example. This can also occur on your steps. Snow shoveling also costs less to remove. Modern shovels come in many shapes and sizes.
Snow shoveling requires the right tools and the proper technique. Choosing a shovel with a straight wooden handle and a plastic scoop will work perfectly. Other models have metal lips. These lips may help scrape ice, but they can also damage asphalt, concrete, and wood surfaces. Shoveling takes a lot more time than plowing, and the risk of injury is higher.
Plowing is best suited to driveways, parking lots, and other large areas that require snow removal to allow access for vehicles. Plows come in different types, and you can mount them on the front or rear of your car. If you want to use a plow attachment with your vehicle, make sure that it has 4WD and good tires so your tires can grip the ground well. When you use a plow attachment, your truck’s grip dictates the speed.
For a do-it-yourself snow removal project, the plow is the most expensive option. But plows are the easiest and fastest option.
Decide What To Do With The Excess Snow
In the aftermath of a serious blizzard, snow must find some place to go. It is essential to plan where to pile snow, no matter the size of the property. Planning where to pile snow is good practice. To prevent snowmelt from collecting and freezing, snow shouldn’t run off into walkways or pedestrian paths but drain into landscaped areas or directly into the drains.
What Foot Traffic Will You Have?
Providing high-quality products and excellent customer service are essential aspects of running a business. But paying attention to how your commercial property looks, especially during winter, is crucial. You may experience slippery surfaces in your business premises when it snows a lot.
You risk a slip, fall, or car accident injuring your customers or employees by ignoring this safety concern. This can lead to expensive legal suits. It may negatively impact your reputation and lead to loss of sales and customers.
Should You Do It Yourself Or Call The Pros?”
It is best to remove snow from all walkways, driveways, and sidewalks right after a snowstorm and as soon as possible in the following days. Always keep walking areas clear of snow. No matter what type of property you own, you must comply with this policy. The best business decision is to hire a snow removal service. By doing so, you’ll avoid expensive city/town fines and injuries that could cause lawsuits.