Written By Denise Federow, DIR Incorporated
With several more weeks of winter to go and parts of the country buried in snow—how is your business faring this winter? Were you prepared for winter storms and cold? Many of the same precautions you would take at home also apply to your business.
Do you have adequate plans for snow and ice removal?
- When the winter winds blow and the snow piles up, the snow plow companies get very busy. Having a couple of back up people to call is best. Also have a designated employee or employees who are in charge of checking throughout the day and shoveling and salting sidewalks. More than an inconvenience, not doing so can become a liability if a customer or patron gets hurt on your property. Also remember to clear snow from nearby fire hydrants so they can be found if needed.
- When temperatures drop below zero you want to make sure your pipes don’t freeze and burst. Make sure that water is drained from sprinkler systems and anywhere that condensation might build up. Leaving indoor faucets running in just a slight stream overnight and especially over the weekend when frigid temperatures are predicted is better than taking a chance.
- Keep floors dry as people come in and out. This might mean designating someone to keep up with this if you don’t have a fulltime maintenance person on staff.
- Icicles that build up on your building can become deadly weapons if they start falling. Be sure to safely remove them promptly—and then seal up the places where the icicle formed.
- Snow piled up on commercial roofs causing them to collapse is common in winter storms. Knowing the snow load your roof can handle is critical. For example, a roof designed to handle a snow load of 20 lbs. could possibly handle 11.5 inches of heavy, wet snow. You would want to remove the snow (if it is safe to do so) when it reaches six inches.
Are your backup generators working properly?
- You don’t want to find out that they’re not when the power goes out and you lose all the perishables in your freezers. Be sure to keep them properly maintained so you don’t come in on a Monday morning to a foul smell coming from the employee’s lounge refrigerator! Even in short-term power outages be sure to check perishables for spoilage.
- Protect your important records in case of prolonged power outages or fire by keeping copies of business and customer records and personnel contacts offsite.
- If you have employees on the road make sure their vehicles are in good shape for winter driving. Check the tires, brakes and wiper blades. The Health and Safety Institute has an online winter safety driving course for employees, Weather the Road, available through their website.
- Closing for bad weather: No business owner likes to close and lose productivity, time and sales but sometimes weather conditions, road conditions and power outages make it unavoidable. Have a plan in place that allows at least some employees to work from home, minimizing the loss. With today’s technology, utilizing conference calls, webinars and Skype business can be conducted from anywhere.
This might be the time to pull your staff together on a conference call for that weekly meeting you planned to have later in the week.
Having a plan and making sure your employees know the plan will help your business make it through these last weeks of winter and launch into spring.