Prevent Common Liability Claims
Published on December 20, 2016
While general insurance liability claims are the most common, they are also often the most preventable. Unlike worker’s compensation claims, general liability insurance claims usually come from your customers and vendors. For example, when a customer slips on a wet floor, the business can be liable for any injury or damage caused by the fall. The key is planning ahead and recognizing issues that lead to accidents and other liability claims. Common sense can be your first line of defense against many potential claims that impact your liability insurance premiums and put others at risk. Develop a safety first mantra in your small business to stop accidents before they happen. Consider some easy preventive tips and tricks that may help reduce liability issues.
Enhanced Lighting to Improve Vision and Reduce Liability Claims
Sometimes all it takes to make an area dangerous is a few shadows. Create a lighting checklist that includes:
- Examining light bulbs regularly and replacing burned out ones right away
- Evaluating your workspace and looking for areas that would benefit from better lighting
- Checking the perimeter, walkways and parking lots to ensure they are well lit and safe for everyone. If you use light sensitive equipment that goes on automatically when the sun goes down make sure it works as expected each day.
- Do a monthly check of your emergency lighting system, so you know it works when you need it and provides sufficient light to all areas.
Good Floor Hygiene for Fewer Liability Insurance Claims
It is easy to forget simple floor care when you are busy, but ignoring it can increase your risk of liability claims. Create a plan for managing floors and preventing slips and falls that includes:
- Teaching employees to clean up spills as they happen
- Making sure someone stands near a large spill to direct traffic before and during cleanup
- Using the yellow “Wet Floor” signs anytime the floor is even slightly wet including after mopping and during inclement weather.
- Using floor mats at all entrances and areas that get wet like by a drinking fountain
- Cleaning up any grease spills properly and double checking to make sure the floor is not slippery after cleanup
Focus on Stairs to Reduce Your Liability Claims Risk
Stairways are problematic for businesses and a major source of liability claims, so managing yours is critical. Start with basic maintenance like:
- Installing handrails if necessary
- Securing any existing handrails and steps to ensure they are functional and safe
- Checking the lighting so each step and landing is well lit
- Adding nonskid surfaces to every step
- Setting up regular checks, so the stairways remain clear from debris and clutter and instructing employees to avoid storing anything on the stairs
Floor and Carpet Care Means Fewer Accidents and Less Risk of Liability Claims
Carpets are another potential hazard for businesses looking to prevent liability insurance claims. Make a habit of inspecting your floors on a regular basis, including tile, carpet, area rugs and walkway mats. Replace anything that is worn or frayed. Other precautions to consider include:
- Checking the flooring under the carpet and repairing anything loose
- Placing signs that indicate small, easy-to-miss elevation changes like a step or slant
- Putting slip resistant mats at all entrances and exits
Common Mistake That Lead to Liability Claims
Proper maintenance only gets you so far. Small business owners needs to make a point of training employees about safety and discussing common mistakes that lead to accidents such as:
- Leaving garbage containers in pathways or doors
- Ignoring trash or clutter on the floor that might cause someone to trip
- Stretching extension cords across open, public areas
- Allowing refrigeration units to drip condensation creating a slippery puddle on the floor
- Not checking restrooms regularly for wet floors and trash
In the few minutes it takes to evaluate high-risk areas, you potentially save hundreds of dollars in liability claims plus show your staff and customers how much you value their safety.