Posts Tagged ‘liability’

Property Management: The Winter Slide-Step

November 28, 2014

2014-11-28 - Man slipping and falling

(Image Credit: Google Images – http://www.gopixpic.com)

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THE NORTHEAST’S MID-AUTUMN SNOWFALL reminds us of the need to be prepared for outdoor hazards the cold weather season brings. For snow-belt folks keeping a shovel, snow blower and sand/ salt handy are daily rituals, while clearing sidewalks, parking lots and common areas of the white stuff are almost subconscious activities.

Small wonder then that many of our thoughts and discussions this time of year focus on weather and the hazards it may bring. But what about the perils outdoor weather causes indoors? Even with shoveled sidewalks, as someone enters and walks through the building there are bits and pieces of the “marshmallow world” that are apt to enter as well. Snowflakes sticking to shoes, boots and clothing tend to soften then intermittently fall (typically unnoticed) to the floor.

Often the result is a trail of wet, partially melted snowy spots that can be very slippery, especially on hardwood, tile, linoleum or similar floor surfaces. Unfortunately it might be a trail leading to a catastrophe for an unsuspecting soul who inadvertently steps on one or more of those spots, suddenly loses his/ her balance then hard-lands on the floor.

This type of slip and fall can cause varying degrees of injury, including torn/ sprained muscles, broken bones, head trauma, paralysis and, perhaps, death in some situations. It has the potential to become a devastatingly bad scenario in any building, be it a single/ multi-family residence, commercial structure or governmental building. Striving to prevent such an occurrence is a winter-long work in progress requiring constant attention, particularly during a snow or ice event.

Beyond being a problem for property managers, there is the pain and the overall effect on any injured person … and let’s not forget the possibility of a liability lawsuit for the property owner.

So what can be done? Other than completely closing the building there likely is no single or series of measures that will provide one-hundred percent protection from a slip and fall, though there are things that help lessen the possibility of it happening.

In addition to other actions, we usually seek to prevent such incidents by having large moisture-absorbing doormats placed by each entry along with an attention grabbing sign to remind folks to “scrape” their shoes/ boots and to “wipe” off snow clinging to clothing. Then, where possible, we strive to install non-skid floor surfaces on heavy foot-traffic areas and stairways as well as use secured or non-skid moisture-absorbing runners in hallways.

To be sure, there are other steps that can and should be taken. Among them are ensuring the involved areas are properly lighted, regularly removing/ drying floor surfaces of wet/ snowy spots and debris as well as frequently cleaning doormats as well as runners.

Bottom line: During foul winter weather building interiors need the same vigilance as does the building exterior.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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