[This article was written by Anita Ginsburg.]
Operating your business in the winter involves added challenges, including protecting customers and employees from slip-and-fall hazards and other safety issues caused by snow and ice. With planning and vigilance, everyone on your property can stay safe, and you can continue to do business during winter weather.
You and your employees could be stranded at work if snow or ice hits unexpectedly. You might need provisions to spend a night or longer inside your store, perhaps without power. In addition to a first aid kit, consider keeping a battery-powered or solar radio, thermal blankets, and some flashlights at work. You’ll also need a supply of food and water. You should have enough for everyone who could be stranded.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, businesses must put up signs alerting of floor hazards. For example, if employees and customers are tracking snow in through the front door which melts to make puddles, there should be a wet floor sign by the front door.These signs must be displayed so that anyone in the area can see them. Other laws and ordinance may be in place in your area that go beyond signs and require you to maintain a certain level of safety. You must also comply with your insurance company requirements.
You may be able to handle snow removal yourself on a small property, but remember that you have other duties, so you may not have time to clear all the snow and ice. Commercial snow removal companies exist to clear sidewalks, parking lots, and other crucial outdoor areas to prevent falls and allow your employees and customers to get to your business as safely as possible. Commercial snow removal services also usually provide salting to prevent refreezing and improve traction.
Mats and Carpets
Ice and snow that’s tracked inside is a floor hazard that can cause injury. By putting down floor mats and carpets, water and mud can be better contained. At a minimum, you’ll need mats at all entrances and exits used by customers or employees. Additional carpets may be needed if heavy traffic tracks in a lot of snow. Employees should also watch for water on the floor and mop it up quickly.
You can’t dictate what your customers wear on their feet, but you can encourage or require employees to wear non-skid footwear. Most winter boots and shoes have slip-resistant soles, and many sneakers are just as good. Some workplaces always require the use of non-slip shoes, not just in bad weather. Set a good example by wearing appropriate footwear yourself.
Customers and employees can be absent-minded or inattentive, but you can maintain a safe workplace during unexpected winter weather by being prepared, reducing hazards, and using signage to remind everyone of floor hazards. It’s good business to keep your customers and employees as safe as possible.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.