December 21 is the first day of winter (hooray?). The 2024 Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts it’ll be a snowy, cold winter for most of the country but mild and wet in parts of the east coast.

Wherever your business is, as a small business owner, a slip and fall could mean more than an unhappy customer, employee, or service provider. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 67% of falls happen because of wet surfaces, weather hazards, and loose rugs or mats.

A customer falling and being injured on your premises could result in an expensive lawsuit. Though general liability insurance may cover an injured person’s medical expenses and financial support if you’re sued, it can’t compensate you for the time you’ll have to spend with your lawyers as the case moves through the legal system.

How to prevent slip and fall accidents at your business this winter

Download Our FREE Insurance Whitepaper

Learn everything you need to protect your small business.

Your email address will be used by Zensurance to provide latest news, offers and tips. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Zensurance - Small Business Insurance Guide

Minimize your company’s risk of a slip and fall insurance claim. Whether you have a home-based business, a retail storefront, or an office or warehouse, taking a few precautionary measures inside and outside can help ensure no one takes a tumble and is injured.

How to Avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls

To ensure a safer workplace, start by doing a walkabout to identify areas where:

  • Lighting may be poor
  • Walking surfaces may be uneven or broken
  • Handrails may be lacking

Ideally, this walkabout should include more than one person to gain different perspectives. For example, you may find the lighting just right, but someone else may find it too dim. The more eyes, the better. Then, address each area with a deficiency before it becomes a problem.

5 Ways to Prevent Slip and Falls Outdoors

You may not be able to control the weather, but you can control how you maintain your property during the winter. Don’t let outdoor maintenance slide. Here are five ways to keep your walkways and driveways clear of snow and ice:

1. Snow and Ice Removal

Regularly clear snow and ice from sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots even if you hire a snow removal contractor and promptly address winter weather conditions. Also, be mindful of where the snow is thrown. Throughout winter, a snowbank can get large and may limit the visibility of both pedestrians and vehicles.

2. Salt or Sand Application

Apply ice-melting salt or sand on icy surfaces to enhance traction and reduce slippery conditions. If the building’s downspouts drain onto a driveway, parking lot, or other non-porous surfaces, check the area daily for ice build-up and salt or sand as needed. Water discharged from downspouts can quickly turn to ice, making for treacherous walking conditions.

3. Proper Lighting

Ensure outdoor areas are well-lit during winter to help individuals see potential hazards..

4. Warning Signage

Place warning signs in areas prone to icy conditions to alert people to potential hazards.

5. Handrails and Guardrails

Install sturdy handrails and guardrails on stairs and walkways to provide additional support and prevent falls.

10 Ways to Prevent Slip and Falls Indoors

As much as there is to do outdoors to prevent a wintertime slip and fall, there are precautions you can take indoors, too:

1. Use Mats

When a person enters your work premises, ensure there are non-slip, absorbent mats and runners at each entrance to prevent snow, ice, and water from being tracked inside. They should be swapped out regularly for clean sets as they absorb a fair bit of melted snow and salt.

2. Floor Cleaning and Maintenance

Keep floors dry and clean to prevent slippery conditions. Promptly address spills and leaks, and use non-slip floor coatings or treatments. Furthermore, secure all mats, rugs, cords, and cables that could pose a tripping hazard at or near entrances, and remove debris and clutter around doorways and aisles that may limit someone’s mobility or create unnecessary obstacles.

3. Footwear Policies

Encourage employees to wear appropriate footwear for winter conditions, such as shoes with slip-resistant soles.

4. Wet Floor Signs

Use wet floor signs to alert individuals to wet or slippery areas, especially in high-traffic zones.

5. Proper Lighting

Ensure that all indoor spaces are well-lit to improve visibility and reduce the risk of tripping hazards.

6. Conduct Regular Inspections

Regularly inspect the premises to identify and address potential hazards promptly.

7. Train Your Employees

Train employees on winter safety protocols, including proper snow and ice removal procedures, and promptly address spills and wet floors indoors.

8. Have an Emergency Response Plan

Create an emergency response plan that includes procedures for addressing slip and fall incidents and ensure your employees are familiar with it.

9. Handrails and Grab Bars

If necessary, install handrails and grab bars in areas where individuals may need additional support, such as staircases and restrooms.

10. Know Local Weather Conditions

Stay informed about weather forecasts to anticipate and prepare for adverse winter conditions.

Protect Your Finances: Get the Business Insurance You Need

Winter safety may be seasonal, but protecting your business with business insurance is needed year-round. And, for a small to medium-sized business, the cost of general liability (CGL) policy – the type that protects you if you’re sued when someone slips, falls, and injures themselves – is very affordable. For example, costs are usually $450 a year for a policy with $2 million in coverage. 

Insurance is an investment in your business to help ensure its financial stability and protect you from risks you can’t afford to ignore.

Fill out our online application for a free quote. Let our knowledgeable brokers get the low-cost policy you need and customize it to suit your requirements.

– Updated December 11, 2023.

Sign Up for ZenMail

The best of Zensurance news, tips, and resources are delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

Share This Story:

About the Author: Alexandria Anthony

Alexandria Anthony is the Team Lead, Property & Hospitality, at Zensurance.