Prepare for Inclement Weather, Prevent Liability this Fall

With June in full swing and July rapidly approaching, facilities are wise to begin planning for the inclement weather that regularly hits the southern, Atlantic coastal, and northeastern regions of the United States during the summer and fall. Businesses along the Gulf Coast and South Florida coastline must use take particularly strong precautions, as the National Hurricane Center has warned that the 2013 hurricane season has potential to cause severe storms through the summer and into the month of November.

Fortunately, there is plenty of time to plan for inclement weather and visitor safety. Using the guide below, businesses are invited to brainstorm the ways in which weather, dangerous conditions, and old safety materials are most likely to cause guests harm when visiting facilities.

1. Minding Weather

Of course, weather is one of the primary things to consider when improving visitor safety this year. Things like temperature, precipitation, and variance in weather patterns are each important. As mentioned, the National Hurricane Center has predicted hurricane season to be particularly bad this year. In addition to authorities like the NHC, business owners may wish to consult the Farmer’s Almanac to look at historical weather statistics for the area. By compiling and analyzing data from authoritative sources, businesses will be better able to make smart investments in safety products and training programs for accident prevention.

2. Mapping ‘Visitor Route’

As the name implies, the ‘visitor route’ is the most common pathways that guests will take while visiting the business or facility. By mapping the most common visitor routes, businesses will be able to conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potentially dangerous conditions that the average guest may encounter. Then, a proactive plan can be made to make those conditions as safe as possible (see #3  below). Important areas to consider include:

  • Parking lots
  • Outdoor stairways
  • Sidewalks
  • Vestibules
  • Reception Areas / Lobbies
  • Hallways
  • Elevator Lobbies
  • Major Stairwells (particularly those used in the event of an emergency evacuation.

3. Performing a Safety Risk Assessment

When analyzing these areas, it is also important to note their inherent danger. For example, parking lots, sidewalks, and other outdoor areas are especially dangerous because they experience the most direct contact with weather. Other areas might be dangerous for less obvious reasons. The marble floors of an entryway, for example, might be perfectly safe when dry but treacherous when even mildly wet. The process of mapping, identifying, and minimizing dangerous workplace conditions is most effective when conducted as a safety risk assessment. For more, visit this article on proactive safety risk assessments for business.

4. Replacing Old or Outdated Safety Materials

According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, slip and fall accidents cost American businesses about $13 billion in 2012 alone. A majority of these accidents were the result slips and falls that occurred on either the same level, or from one level to another. In light of this alarming statistic, it is vital that businesses take time to evaluate how the lack of adequate anti-slip safety matting, stair treads, visible signage, and overhead lighting might be causing accidents.

5. Considering Additional Safety Precautions

Finally, businesses may wish to consider investing in safety products that enhance not just visitor safety, but overall facility efficiency and functionality as well. Given the recent warning from the National Hurricane Center, businesses might find it particularly helpful to invest in ongoing employee training, emergency evacuation drills, and products like wet umbrella bag stands to more effectively control large amounts of rainwater.

For additional information on industry-leading safety products and accident prevention, readers are invited to contact Eagle Mat Client Services at 1-877-333-1018. With more than 3 decades experience, our team of friendly professionals can help your business make your facility or storefront a more clean and safe place.