Here are three wintertime risk management tips for small business owners:
1. Deter threats to the physical workspace
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.
2. Mind the building’s exterior
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.