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Snowy Sidewalk

Winter can be a risk to the continuity of business operations. Small business owners should be ensuring that their assets and operations are protected against the elements of the season. A strong handle on risk management can help to maintain stability during this season.

Here are three wintertime risk management tips for small business owners:
  1. Deter threats to the physical workspace

  2. The biggest risks typically are frozen pipes and flooding during winter months.

    • Cost Helper, a website that aggregates statistics related to repairs and maintenance,states that a burst pipe can cost in excess of $3,800 if it is located in a wall or the building's foundation, while subsequent water damage can run up to $70,000.

    • The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that about 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a flood, as the average claim for one of these events is about $85,000.

    Make sure pipes are insulated and carefully monitored, and that your building is protected against floods. As always, a flood insurance policy is critical to ensuring your business is covered should a major event take place this winter.

  3. Mind the building's exterior

  4. Another major risk ─especially for smaller retailers ─ is the prospect of icy sidewalks and parking lots that cause slips and injuries to your employees or customers. If someone falls due to hazardous conditions on the sidewalks and parking lots around your business, you can be held liable for taking care of their medical bills.

    The New York Times explained that some cities will penalize companies even if no one does fall. In New York City, the newspaper points out, the sanitation department handed out 10,000 tickets last winter to those who did not clear up sidewalks in front of their buildings, with fines ranging between $100 and $350. Make sure these pathways are clear and safe at all times.

  5. Have a contingency plan for operations

  6. Small businesses might already have a telecommuting policy in place to best serve the demands of the modern workforce, but wintertime needs to be a point of focus for this policy. Companies should also have a plan in case a major winter storm or other event makes travel to and from the physical workplace unsafe for employees. If you do not have a remote work or telecommuting policy in place and reside in one of the nation's northern regions, your company might miss several days of worker productivity. This is especially true for companies outside the retail sector.

    Make sure that you have a reliable method to communicate with all staff members efficiently when a storm is in the forecast. Allowing workers to work from home can allow operations to continue on regardless of weather conditions at the office.

Be safe this winter, and ensure you plan ahead to keep your business thriving well into spring!


SOURCE - Selective Insurance - 3 Small Business Risk Management Tips for Winter
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