Facility managers are often charged with making critical decisions regarding liability protection that will affect their facilities’ bottom line. While preventative measures to guard against lawsuits can seem to take a huge bite out of profits, it is nevertheless essential for those in charge of safety and maintenance to understand how even one slip and fall injury due to snowy or icy conditions can result in a significant business loss. It is incumbent upon those tasked with facility maintenance decisions to monitor these risks and take appropriate action to prevent these injuries.
The Actual Numbers are Staggering
The Snow and Ice Management Association and the Maine Department of Labor have analyzed some alarming facts concerning the cost of snow- and ice-related slip and fall injuries. The MDOL supplied the statistics from the 2012 and 2013 winter seasons, which, incidentally, were two of the mildest New England winters in recent history. What these studies found, along with research conducted by top insurance companies, is that the average claim for an individual who suffers a snow- or ice-related falling injury is a whopping $33,000. If that injury happens to occur at the person’s place of business and qualifies as a worker’s compensation claim, the average cost rises to $48,000.
After looking at these numbers, it becomes clear that spending money to mitigate risk is, in fact, a critically important investment, and one that must be adequately conveyed to upper management.
Liability Insurance Only Solves Part of the Problem
Wise commercial enterprises take out ample insurance policies to protect against costs related to injuries suffered by employees, visitors, and customers. But these liability policies can present a false sense of security for a business, because filing even one claim is likely to result in an increased insurance premium for years to come. The average business policyholder’s claim history will follow the business for seven years, even through a change in insurance companies.
The Payout Gap
Insurance coverage is a large expense for every business, and naturally, the most affordable insurance policies come with higher deductibles. The average slip-and-fall claim, while an onerous drain on business resources, may still fall under the deductible for an affordable policy, and thus, be ineligible for reimbursement.
In the event that you are able to surpass the deductible threshold, your particular policy may still not cover the cost of the claim. According to a study by insurance industry leader The Hartford, the average payout for a slip-and-fall injury is only $20,000. Compare that with the average claim of $33,000, and your business could be out $13,000, even if you’ve met your deductible.
Your Employee’s Simple Walk to the Car Can Cost Thousands
Workforce accidents make up a large percentage of snow and ice slip and fall injuries. Companies where employees work outdoors in winter months may seem to be the most vulnerable, but the Maine Department of Labor statistics shows some interesting results regarding the majority of snow- and ice-related mishaps. Figure 5 in a report entitled, Slipping and Falling on Ice—A Serious Workplace Hazard demonstrates that the largest percentage of injuries occur not while individuals are performing specific work tasks, but instead more commonly happen in transit, as workers travel to and from their vehicles and the worksite.
An Affordable Insurance Policy Against Costly Claims
Paying to protect against things that may never occur is not a cost enthusiastically borne by companies that have limited resources or other business growth expenses that take priority. And your organization won’t be able to guard against every possible injury to customers and employees that may occur on your property. But slip-and-fall injuries in snowy or icy conditions pose a huge financial risk to your business. Therefore, it makes sense for facility managers to search for ways to keep costs down by smart preventative measures that can protect workers, customers, and visitors from dangerous conditions.