Documentation is a Contractor’s Best Friend
From an insurance and risk management standpoint, what snow and ice contractors cannot do enough of is document, document, and document. This unexpected, yet critical contractor tool In this highly litigious society we are living in it has never been more important to keep track of all the information you can. Recently insurance carriers have moved to much stricter guidelines when underwriting potential businesses. They now require certain documentation, such as logbooks. Lack of documentation will cause insurance carriers to offer higher premiums or decline coverage altogether. Proper documentation will not only put you in the best position to obtain reasonably priced insurance but it will make your organization safer and can provide crucial defense information when and if a lawsuit arises.
Documentation should begin well before the first snowflakes hit the ground. All snow and ice contractors should be doing preseason site inspections. While performing these inspections it is important to note any wet spots, depressions in pavements, cracks or any other imperfections that could cause excess water to gather after the snow has melted. You also want to note drainage issues. Take pictures of all problem areas being documented.
When meeting with the property manager after inspections have them confirm in writing that they will address areas that you have identified as problems. If they are not addressed by the time services are required at the property then you have a much better chance of pushing some liability back on the property manager should there be a slip and fall in areas you have identified. Also, by noting any existing property damage on-site you will have a record to refer to after the season if there are any property damage claims made.
During a snow event, most contractors have their employees use log books, logging the time they arrived on-site and when they left. Though this is a good start, there is so much more documentation that can be done to protect the company from fraudulent slip and fall claims. When a contractor arrives at a site he or she should note the time they arrived as well as weather conditions, air temperature, ground temperature, and whether the business is open or closed. Also, it is important to be precise when logging your times in and out from a site, so that it matches up with the GPS (if equipped) reports. This creates two layers of protection to prove that you were on-site and managing the snow and ice. Rounding to the nearest 15 minutes or half an hour can create inconsistencies within the organization.
After old man winter has finally decided to hang up his parka, contractors need to get out to the sites to do a final post-season inspection and once again DOCUMENT all they see. Make sure to note the same problem areas noted at the pre-season site inspection. For one, that’s a check to see if the property manager repaired the spots and secondly it will indicate if the areas have worsened over winter. Make sure to take notes and pictures of any property damage found on site whether caused by you or not. You can never have too much documentation. For more information on keeping good records or to discuss your business needs, you may reach out to me through email at [email protected] or call our office at 508-824-8666.