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Winter Business Risks: A Must Know for Owners

13 February 2019 Resources

Winter is tough, and Ontario residents are more than familiar with icy winter storms and temperatures that dip to a bone-chilling -35° C. As a business owner, you should be aware of any risks that could disrupt or threaten your business, and the special risks that come with winter.

Trips, slips and falls:

Ice, snow, rain, hail – whichever state of matter the weather pours at us at any given time – those things could cause a safety hazard in your property for your employees or customers. If you don’t take action to mitigate this risk, you might end up having to compensate their medical expenses out of pocket if you don’t have general liability insurance.

You can avoid that by making sure to shovel and salt outside of your building, eliminate tripping hazards like cords, and boxes that could be lying around, and having “Wet Floor” signs available to warn your visitors to be careful. There’s even a product called MD access that you can purchase. MD Access gives you 24/7 access to health care advice. If a visitor or employee refuses to visit a doctor to have injuries assessed you can have them speak to a doctor instantly to assess injuries, decreasing the chance that they will come back to sue you for injuries later.

Business Interruptions:

Other than risks of injury on your premises, winter could be a serious risk to the day-to-day operations of your business

Employees Inability to Work:

Productivity can be severely slowed down when employees are affected by the weather. They could contract a cold and flu or be unable to physically get to work due to storms and dangerous driving conditions. This lack of “manpower” availability could cause a decrease in revenue.

Remedy this issue by having an effective Work from Home policy in place, making sure the affected employee has adequate equipment and network connectivity.

Sick employees should be encouraged to stay home and get better, for their own health and the health of your other employees. By staying home they help avoid putting more staff out of commission. You also may want to urge your staff to get flu shots before the season starts.

Power outages, network problems, equipment breakdown:

Severe weather can also affect the non-human elements of your business operations. Most, if not all businesses nowadays depend heavily on technology to run their daily transactions. Snow and ice storms have been known to cause electrical power outages, and losing power means losing lighting, internet connection, phone lines, heating and all other electrical equipment.

Back-up generators are a must in order to avoid the ramifications of a power outage. By temporarily restoring your power, not only can your resume your operations, but you would also reduce the risks that come with a blackout, like theft, or accidents and injuries. You could also be protected by having business interruption and equipment breakdown insurance in your policy, but having an instant solution is always the best method.

Suppliers in other regions facing severe weather conditions:

You might be fortunate enough to avoid some of the worst storms but that doesn’t mean you’re completely safe from the risk of business interruption. Some parts of your business could depend on third-party deliveries from suppliers, or vendors who could be located across the province or international borders.

Make sure you always have a backup inventory of any products you need, whether it is your stock, office supplies, as well as a contingency plan and access to alternative suppliers if such issues occur.

Increased chance of criminal activity

While you likely already have the appropriate safety measures in place to avoid break-ins and theft, winter comes with some factors that unfortunately could give criminals a wider opportunity for malicious activity. For example, the shorter days and longer nights mean that your office or store may be more vulnerable to thieves attempting to use the cover of nightfall to trespass unnoticed.

Another risk to think about is the presence of winter coats. Anyone tempted to shoplift or sneak something in and out of your place of business may be able to hide it among their layers of winter clothing without looking suspicious. Especially if your products or inventory don’t include any sort of anti-theft devices.

It wouldn’t hurt to take extra precautions during the winter months to protect yourself and your business. Make sure to have adequate lighting and security cameras running in and outside of your property, and possibly hire some extra staff members or security guards during operating hours for some extra monitoring.

Talk to us today about protecting your business year round.