Safely Handling Snow and Ice at Your Inn

While winter may be a beautiful time of year, it is not all about skating, sledding, and romantic walks in the park. Along with the many enjoyable recreational activities comes the potential for injury from exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, slip and falls, or even heart attacks. It is advisable your Inn take the proper precautions to ensure that you, your workers, and your guests avoid potential injuries, or a costly insurance claim.

Merriam Insurance recommends you evaluate your snow and ice removal procedures. Workers should be made aware of any unexpected hazards. Walkways, driveways, porches, steps, and railings should be inspected regularly by a competent person to determine if they are structurally safe for your guests and employees.

Employees should be trained in the proper methods to ensure their work is performed safely. In addition to having a formal written procedure, sturdy ice-free handrails, and non-slip surfaces, follow these recommended tips when clearing snow and ice:

  • Track your clearing of snow and spreading of a deicer. You should keep a log that shows how frequently walkways and parking lots are checked for unsafe conditions. We recommend an early morning check of all surfaces to see if ice has formed. If it has, treat and monitor those surfaces regularly.
  • If you choose to have a contractor take care of your outdoor snow removal, be sure to have:
    • A written contract, outlining his responsibilities and liability if the work is not done correctly.
    • Proof of insurance for auto liability, in case their plow truck causes damage.
    • Proof of insurance for general liability, naming the Inn as an Additional Insured. This is in case he does not perform his job correctly and someone is injured as a result.
  • If you or an employee is clearing snow or ice by hand, here are some helpful tips:
    • Warm-up beforehand. Stretch or perform calisthenics to help prevent injury and fatigue.
    • Dress appropriately. Wearing breathable layers that can be peeled off one or more layers at a time will help to prevent getting overheated. Additionally, wearing insulated waterproof boots with good traction will help to keep your feet warm and dry, and may prevent slip and falls.
    • Avoid overexertion. Scoop, or better yet, push smaller amounts of snow to avoid back and other injuries.
    • Stay ahead of the storm. To prevent snow and ice from accumulating on sidewalks or driveways, clear the snow every few inches rather than waiting for the snow to stop falling.
    • Stay hydrated. Keep a full water bottle nearby and take frequent breaks to rehydrate.
    • Avoid taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are a good idea if you are in a hurry, but may be a bad idea if there is snow and ice on the ground.
    • Take your time. Take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.
  • Enter Sandman. While sand won’t melt ice, sprinkling sand over packed snow and ice will provide excellent traction.

The winter season can be simultaneously excellent for business and dangerous. Protect your guests and the employees responsible for clearing snow and ice safely. Merriam Insurance recommends you contact one of our experts to learn more about protecting your business from these risks.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI