Now that winter is underway, it is important that property owners and managers understand the unique nature of premises liability as it relates to slips, trips and falls in the winter season. While pedestrians navigating public walkways are encouraged to be cautious when confronted with a snowy or icy walkway, there are many things that the diligent property owner should be aware of how to help minimize the possibilities of someone getting hurt on their property. Building codes and local regulations require properties to be maintained to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Exterior elements which fall under this category include sidewalks, ramps, exterior stairways and handrails/guardrails.

Dangerous Conditions Ahead!

SBSA, LLC A Charles Taylor Company | Premises Liability During Winter Season | Blog PostIce buildup on a sidewalk where water from the downspouts discharge over the walkway and freezes. Not only do property owners and managers need to be aware of common winter weather dangers, they also need to understand that with the holidays comes an increase in the number of visitors who are unfamiliar with the properties they are visiting.  That bump on the sidewalk that you walk across every day and know is there may not be known to an unfamiliar visitor, or even seen when the sidewalk is covered with snow or ice.

Watch your step!

The landing slab is structurally supported by the foundation, and the sidewalk is supported on the backfill.  The different sub-bases result in different movement between the slabs.

Some things to consider when developing your Property Maintenance Plan:

-Expecting an increase in visitors who are unfamiliar with your property during the holidays.

-Trip hazards along the walkways, including heaving or settling of one of the sidewalk slabs, which could result in a fall.

-Drainage paths where water flows over or adjacent to public walkways.

-The shadows from adjacent buildings may cause ice buildup on certain areas of your walkways.

-Handrail and guardrail conditions or existence in regards to steps, ramps or stairways.

-Proper lighting of public walkways.

Hiring a consultant with a thorough understanding of hazard recognition and mitigation can be helpful to the diligent property owner in recognizing these risks and in safeguarding your property’s visitors.