Canadians are accustomed to the gusting winds, heavy snow, and freezing temperatures associated with our harsh winters. Severe weather combined with a lack of preparation can have dire consequences for building owners. Structural damage, freeze-ups, and flooding are just the beginning. Frequently, unprepared properties expose organizations to liability claims from slip, trip, and fall incidents.
These outcomes can be mitigated with the right advance preparation. The checklist below, while not exhaustive, can be an effective part of your facility’s risk control measures.
The importance of building maintenance should not be overlooked when preparing for winter. Look for any evidence of past damage to your building’s structure. Pay special attention to damaged roof equipment that may need replacement and take note of any areas of potential instability during winter weather.
Boilers, furnaces, and other heating equipment must be inspected and maintained in accordance with regulatory and manufacturers’ guidelines. Winter storms may result in power failure, which may deactivate your heating system. If this occurs, water-filled piping (for example, sprinklers, domestic water pipes, air conditioning systems, and radiator pipes) may freeze and rupture. As part of your checklist:
Keeping active walkways, stairways, driveways, and parking lots clear will help reduce the likelihood of slips, falls, and motor vehicle accidents. Designate a safe area for dumping snow and keep in mind that melting and freezing will occur until the snow pile is gone. Remember to:
Snow logs should be maintained, retained on file, and as a minimum, record the following:
During the winter months, recorded exterior grounds inspections should be performed at least twice daily, in addition to keeping snow logs — to ensure entrances, pathways, and parking lots are free of slip or trip and fall hazards. Ice can form on surfaces when the temperature drops below the dew point, and snow and ice can thaw and refreeze on walking areas.
A formal contract should be in place, including but not limited to the following:
You can mitigate winter weather impacts on your facility by preparing ahead of time. It is important that the issues highlighted above be addressed by the appropriate personnel within your organization. Most importantly, by having documented winter maintenance routines in place you can:
Placeholder for Right rail bio component
title.fr_ca: Vice-président, Marsh Évaluation des risques
shortbio: Vice President, Marsh Risk Consulting
title: Vice President, Marsh Risk Consulting
shortbio.fr_ca: Vice-président, Marsh Évaluation des risques