Winter brings a unique set of challenges for housing co-operatives, including a greater risk of slips and falls due to slippery and icy conditions. If your members and residents, staff, visitors, or contractors hurt themselves in the common areas of your co-op (including outdoors) they may file a claim against the co-op. However, slip and fall incidents can be reduced by paying attention to the following winter safety tips:
- Snow and ice removal: This is a key activity during winter months. Whether this is done by members, co-op staff, or a snow removal contractor, it is important to plan for snow events. Know the specific areas that are your co-op’s responsibility to keep clear, such as sidewalks and parking lot access. Pay attention to areas where ice and snow regularly accumulates and look out for areas with repeated freeze/thaw cycles.
- Apply salt to parking lots and walkways: If your entire parking lot is not salted, then the areas that are not cleared should be cordoned off to prevent pedestrian traffic.
- Wet floors: Keep the floors of your indoor common areas as dry as possible, especially during winter snow events. Consider installing non-slip mats and carpet runners at entrances and in high traffic areas if appropriate.
- Floors and mats: These will need to be cleaned more frequently as snow and water will be tracked through common areas, including hallways.
- Train your board and staff: Your management staff and/or board should immediately have unsafe conditions fixed and take appropriate actions when dealing with a potentially injured person.
- Site inspections: Regularly inspect your co-op and surrounding areas for slippery areas. Apply sand, salt or ice melter to reduce the likelihood of slips and falls. Be sure to document your inspections and any actions taken to remove snow or ice.
- Snow clearing equipment and ice melting materials: Make sure that your co-ops snow clearing equipment and ice melting materials are readily available and accessible.
- Document your actions: Be sure to and document your efforts, including time of day, area of co-op, weather conditions, work done and the person doing the work. If possible, photograph (with time stamp) the cleared areas. Good documentation is important in the case of slip/fall claims.
A little extra care during winter months will go a long way towards keeping your co-op safe.
Please note that the above information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; it is provided for general informational purposes only.
Information collected from www.marsh.ca
For more information on keeping your co-op safe during winter, check out The Co-operators list of winter safety tips and how to winterize your home.