Your commercial landscaping should go beyond enhancements and provide a safe experience for your guests, employees and residents, thus reducing your liability in the process. An annual review or evaluation of your property is important for identifying potential hazards that can be resolved before they become a much bigger issue – any time of the year!
Every property owner in Canada knows the myriad of potential issues that come with preventative maintenance. Mature trees require constant upkeep, including dead-wooding and pruning of branches that hang over parking lots and walkways. Tree roots that have upheaved concreate and asphalt pose significant tripping hazards, while snow and ice lead to dangerous slips. Addressing issues preventatively before they become hazardous will ensure that your risk and liability are significantly decreased.
Be Proactive to Reduce Your Liability
Every property owner should know that they can be held responsible for injuries sustained by people on their property, no matter the season. As a reminder the Occupiers’ Liability Act, R.S.O 1990 defines the duty of care that property owners must exercise as, “reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.” This standard “applies whether the danger is caused by the condition of the premises or by an activity carried on the premises.”
Have you, the property owner, taken “reasonable” steps to prevent someone from injuring themselves on your property? What exactly does this mean? Legal definitions can be difficult to interpret. Don’t risk finding out! Be proactive and address potential liability issues before they result in injury or a lawsuit.
Responsive and regular storm care
Your contractor needs to be able to respond to harsh weather at a moment’s notice. Storms don’t wait until business hours to wreak havoc, therefore your snow removal contractor needs to be ready and prepared, day and night, when inclement weather is expected. By the time the snow starts, their teams should already be mobilized.
But what about summer storms? Tornados, high winds and flooding can happen during the spring and summer months. All it takes is one storm with heavy winds for dead-wood and limbs to fall, which may cause serious damage or personal injury. Does your landscaping contractor provide emergency response services and clean up to your property after storm damage during the other three months of the year?
Small upgrades like improved drainage, filling in holes, and repairing paths and walkways that are uneven will make a huge difference in the safety of your property. Using pavers in landscape and cityscape design, rather than concrete or asphalt are a great solution for areas with shallow tree roots, as they will shift over time with the landscape. As well, installing landscape lighting in dimly lit areas, such as parking lots and walkways and having clearly marked areas with good signage will encourage people to follow the appropriate pathways and reduce liability issues.
In the winter, the expanding and contracting of water can cause small cracks in your pavement to become larger issues. Your snow and ice removal services are critical to preventing slip, trip and fall accidents on your property. The Accredited Snow Contractors Association found that there are more than 30,000 US slip and fall claims each year related to snow and ice. Of those, 35% are dismissed because of snow contractors who proved they did their job. By taking all reasonable steps to keep your property free and clear of snow, and by hiring a certified contractor, you are addressing liability issues before they become a major problem.
Effective liability management starts long before snow hits the ground – it’s a consideration throughout the entire year. Implementing the right site upgrades and snow response plan will not only make your property safer and reduce your liability, it will also be welcomed by the people who live there every day. Contact Garden Grove Landscape Management today to discuss your property and upgrade needs.
Written by Paul Lammers
Paul Lammers is the vice-president of operations with Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Paul may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-996-1099.