With snowfall comes headaches for business owners who are responsible for clearing the mounds to keep customers and employees safe and operations carrying on as usual. Some owners complain about the costs of removing snow, but what they might not realize is the real cost of not removing snow. Let’s explore five ways negligence could mean bad news for your business this winter:
1. Someone could slip and fall and sue you.
Approximately 80% of workplace slips and falls occur because of a lack of snow and ice on sidewalks, outside stairs and in parking lots. Do you have any idea how much these types of lawsuits could cost your company? Some of the biggest slip and fall lawsuits in history have costed commercial businesses millions of dollars— such as one Alabama man who was awarded $7.5 million after falling at his neighborhood Walmart in 2017. This, of course, is an extreme case, but the threat is real for any size commercial business.
Not only could your customers file a claim for an injury caused by slipping on slick, unsalted patches of ice, snow, or slush, but your employees could as well. The money these victims could be rewarded varies by state, severity of the injury and legal representation, but your company could be responsible for many lofty costs. Sufferers could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disability, loss of earning capacity as well as pain and suffering. Even companies with proper insurance might end up having to dip into their own pockets to cover the bill.
2. A snowy parking lot or entryway could deter customers (even employees!).
Commercial businesses need to create a welcoming environment for shoppers or visitors, and nothing says, “come in!” quite like a cleared lot in the middle of an expanse of snowed-in properties. Oftentimes, your speediness to recover from a heavy snowfall can make a difference in a sale.
With highways and main roads being the township’s first priority, many cars hit the road quickly after a storm. If your business takes too long to clear your parking lot, sidewalks, stairs, etc., shoppers will drive right by to the next closest safezone, sacrificing convenience for comfort.
Nobody wants to brave the snow or tiptoe across icy paths when they don’t have to— including your very own employees, who might claim the conditions are too dangerous to come into work. The early bird gets the worm, so as soon as possible, remove snow and ice to keep customers coming.
3. If you let snow sit, melting can cause other problems post-storm.
Commercial properties without proper drainage systems have to worry about other snow-related qualms, such as repercussions from its melting. As temperatures fluctuate and snow melts and freezes again over cold nights, drainage can create icy paths. This could occur in unexpected places, like from snow melting off your business’s roof, under trees and more, so be sure you’re thinking about all problematic areas and salting to avoid trip and fall allegations.
For those who pile snow onto their lawns or in the back of their parking lots, excess snow melt can also cause flooding. Not only could the water wash dirt onto your walkways and make a muddy mess that no customer wants to cross, but soggy grass that sits and refreezes could kill your turf come spring.
4. Piles of snow on your grass can breed fungal disease and cause compaction, damaging your turf.
Even if you clear your concrete parking lots and pathways, be mindful of where your snow removal company piles the excess snow. It might seem most convenient to toss it on your property and off of your lots, particularly your grass if you have natural turf, but this can have its own long-term repercussions.
Fungus can breed under these mounds, creating snow mold which can damage the root structure of your grass and mean bare lawns come spring. Heavy mounds can also cause compaction to your soil and damage your turf, causing the same headaches months after winter’s passed. The best way to protect your grass or planted areas is to ensure your snow removal company actually removes the snow, or puts it somewhere that won’t threaten your turf’s health. But be careful, there are laws about where you can dump excess snow.
5. There are laws about snow removal and dumping, with hefty fines for negligence.
If your snow removal company isn’t mindful of where it pushes your cleared snow, you could be fined for dumping onto public roads or your neighbor’s property. Not only is it bad etiquette to push snow across your company’s property line, but your neighbors could report you. Don’t sour your relationships or deplete your wallet and ensure you are being respectful of your surroundings.
In addition, some states require businesses to remove snow within a certain time frame after a storm, and failure to do so results in penalization. In the city of Philadelphia, for example, there are strict sidewalk clearing ordinances, requiring property owners to clear sidewalks within six hours of a storm and leave a certain amount of distance between the sidewalk and remaining snow. This law is strictly enforced, and residents who haven’t shoveled their walkways will face a $50 a day fee, with penalties for violating their code up to $300. Be sure to check your township’s rules for snow removal.
Remove Snow Right Away with a Trusted Partner
Failing to remove snow from your commercial business can tact on added costs, threaten the safety of your customers and employees and mar the reputation your company. Don’t let snow or ice get in your way.
Here at C. Caramanico & Sons, Inc., we’ve serviced over 500 acres of parking and one half million square feet of pedestrian walkways. We’d say that’s a fair amount of experience— and with teams prepared 24/7, we’re there when you need us to ensure quick removal.
Explore our Snow & Ice Management services or give us a call at 610.499.1640 today.