By Marsh Canada Limited

If customers hurt themselves on the property you are contracted to maintain, they may demand compensation or even sue you. Slips, trips, and falls after snowfalls and in icy conditions are leading to more lawsuits than ever before with more Canadian courts finding businesses guilty of negligence and awarding higher compensation for injuries sustained. To complicate matters, it can take months or even years for a claim to be advanced against you, and even longer for a resolution to be reached. Given the consequences of being unprepared, it only makes good business sense to investigate ways of helping to mitigate your exposure.

Snow contracts

  • One of the best ways to manage slip and fall risk is by purchasing the appropriate insurance coverage. Snow contractors should not sign any contracts that have a hold harmless agreement or accept liability for something that is not within their control.
  • Contractors should have contracts rather than verbal agreements. This way, if there is ever an issue, there is also a legal document to which to refer.
  • Snow contracts should include a time and accumulation agreement. For example, the contractor is responsible to clear two inches of snow within 24 hours of a snowfall, etc.

Maintenance logs

  • Maintenance logs should be kept for a minimum of three to seven years in case there is a notice of claim of which the contractor is not aware.
  • Site conditions should be logged before and after snow clearing and salting. In the case of a claim, photos would also be helpful.
  • Log sheets increase the frequency of communication between employee/operator and the owner, and should be provided to customers to show dates, times, and condition comments for all parking lots and walkways.

GPS tracking

  • If you have access to global positioning system (GPS) tracking on your trucks, this can help prove the time and date your trucks were onsite and even acts as a backup of maintenance logs in case there is ever a dispute.
  • GPS provides the principal peace-of-mind in knowing where their equipment is and tracking ability if equipment is stolen.

Notes to clients about property maintenance issues

  • If the contractor notices maintenance problems at the facility while performing snow clearance, such as leaking eavestroughs, pictures and letters should be promptly sent to the property owner to notify them of the issue. A slip and fall claim can happen due to flash-freezing, and the contractor’s contract with their client would most likely not address liability in this situation.

Recruitment, training, and recognition

  • Only staff with a minimum of three years experience should be hired.
  • Smart About Salt certification is a risk management environmental stewardship program that promotes improved safe snow and ice control practices on parking lots and sidewalks in an effort to reduce the amount of road salt entering the environment.
  • Provide recognition for good driving and due diligence.
  • Staff should be educated through the use of sitemaps with clearly marked areas for clearing and relocating snow.
  • Encourage the proper use of maintenance logs.

Tracking weather conditions

  • Dispatch should print-off and file a record of weather conditions from Environment Canada to prove if there was precipitation in case of an incident.

Your risk of slip, trip, and fall incidents increases dramatically when complicated by the weather elements of snow and ice. Reviewing the adequacy of your insurance coverage and observing some best practices during inclement weather conditions can help ensure you are managing the risks effectively.

This article is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable, but we make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy. Marsh shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein.

If customers hurt themselves on the property you are contracted to maintain, they may demand compensation or even sue you. Slips, trips, and falls after snowfalls and in icy conditions are leading to more lawsuits than ever before with more Canadian courts finding businesses guilty of negligence and awarding higher compensation for injuries sustained. To complicate matters, it can take months or even years for a claim to be advanced against you, and even longer for a resolution to be reached. Given the consequences of being unprepared, it only makes good business sense to investigate ways of helping to mitigate your exposure.

Snow contracts

  • One of the best ways to manage slip and fall risk is by purchasing the appropriate insurance coverage. Snow contractors should not sign any contracts that have a hold harmless agreement or accept liability for something that is not within their control.
  • Contractors should have contracts rather than verbal agreements. This way, if there is ever an issue, there is also a legal document to which to refer.
  • Snow contracts should include a time and accumulation agreement. For example, the contractor is responsible to clear two inches of snow within 24 hours of a snowfall, etc.

Maintenance logs

  • Maintenance logs should be kept for a minimum of three to seven years in case there is a notice of claim of which the contractor is not aware.
  • Site conditions should be logged before and after snow clearing and salting. In the case of a claim, photos would also be helpful.
  • Log sheets increase the frequency of communication between employee/operator and the owner, and should be provided to customers to show dates, times, and condition comments for all parking lots and walkways.

GPS tracking

  • If you have access to global positioning system (GPS) tracking on your trucks, this can help prove the time and date your trucks were onsite and even acts as a backup of maintenance logs in case there is ever a dispute.
  • GPS provides the principal peace-of-mind in knowing where their equipment is and tracking ability if equipment is stolen.

Notes to clients about property maintenance issues

  • If the contractor notices maintenance problems at the facility while performing snow clearance, such as leaking eavestroughs, pictures and letters should be promptly sent to the property owner to notify them of the issue. A slip and fall claim can happen due to flash-freezing, and the contractor’s contract with their client would most likely not address liability in this situation.

Recruitment, training, and recognition

  • Only staff with a minimum of three years experience should be hired.
  • Smart About Salt certification is a risk management environmental stewardship program that promotes improved safe snow and ice control practices on parking lots and sidewalks in an effort to reduce the amount of road salt entering the environment.
  • Provide recognition for good driving and due diligence.
  • Staff should be educated through the use of sitemaps with clearly marked areas for clearing and relocating snow.
  • Encourage the proper use of maintenance logs.

Tracking weather conditions

  • Dispatch should print-off and file a record of weather conditions from Environment Canada to prove if there was precipitation in case of an incident.

Your risk of slip, trip, and fall incidents increases dramatically when complicated by the weather elements of snow and ice. Reviewing the adequacy of your insurance coverage and observing some best practices during inclement weather conditions can help ensure you are managing the risks effectively.

This article is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable, but we make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy. Marsh shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein.