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Occupier's Liability Risk: Reducing the Likelihood and Impact

occupier's liability.jpg

As an occupier, you have an obligation to maintain your property at a reasonable standard of care so as to not be held liable in case of an accident involving a patron. An “occupier” may be broadly defined as someone in possession of premises, responsible for premises, in control of premises, responsible for activities on the premises, in control of activities on the premises, responsible for people allowed on the premises, or in control of people allowed on the premises.

These best practices can be divided into three categories: risk management, claims handling, and data tracking and trend analysis.

Part One: Risk Management

  • Develop and implement an Inspection and Maintenance Policy that states the purpose of the policy, effective and revision dates of the policy, how often it is to be carried out, how it will be documented and by whom, corrective actions to be taken if minimum standards are not met, and who is responsible.
  • Use a regular and reasonable cleaning and maintenance program.
  • Perform inspections frequently for hazards or maintenance deficiencies. For example, spills and water at entrance ways are common sources of slips, so regularly inspect for wet floors in high-risk areas such as entrances, bathrooms, and beverage service areas.
  • Create an inspection form to be used during inspections.
  • Train employees/volunteers to identify and remedy hazards.
  • Ensure adequate lighting is provided in all areas. 
  • When hazards are discovered, remedy them using methods such as posting signs or notices in highly visible locations to warn patrons of potential danger, erecting barriers to prevent access to hazards, conducting repairs, and removing the hazard.
  • Utilize a non-slip floor treatment (especially when wet or greasy floors are inevitable).
  • Document! Keep documentation of inspections, repairs and the state of the premises.
  • Keep floors free of hazards and debris.
  • Keep entrances clean (as much as possible).
  • Place mats over wet areas (especially in damp weather).
  • Salt, shovel, and sand icy or snowy areas.
  • Follow bylaws and best practices that dictate when snow clearing should be completed.

Part Two: Claims Handling

  • Assist the claimant in finding medical treatment. For example, call an ambulance if injuries are severe.
  • Record names and contact information for any witnesses. Obtain and record detailed descriptions of the incident from the victim and witnesses.
  • Refer any discussions with the claimant to your insurer. It is wise to tell employees that they should not discuss liability with potential claimants and that they should never admit liability.
  • Instruct employees and volunteers to never admit fault on behalf of the organization. They should say “I’m not permitted by my employer to discuss the circumstances of the incident. I will, however, be reporting the incident immediately, and an authorized person will contact you.”
  • Take pictures of the area where the incident occurred. If possible, photograph the footwear that the claimant was wearing.
  • Complete an incident report. Documenting the incident may help establish a defence for a claim presented at a later date, help analyze the cause of the incident and help recommend risk improvements to prevent recurrences.
  • Report the incident to your insurer. Provide them with details of the incident and steps that had been taken to avoid the incident.
  • Document all information related to incidents.
  • Investigate potential causes, brainstorm solutions, and implement preventative measures.

Part Three: Tracking Data and Identifying Trends

Using software to initiate and track incident and claims data will allow your organization to reduce the frequency and severity of future events, while also identifying trends in your locations. This will allow for a more proactive approach to risk management. If your organization is aware of the cause and location of incidents, it makes it easier to predict and prepare for future occurrences.

Inside ClearRisk’s cloud-based claims, incident and risk management software, your organization would be in a position to:

  • Quickly start an incident report and record the location, claimant details, source, cause, the employee involved, and any other necessary details.
  • Allow employees to report incidents from any internet-enabled device using ClearRisk’s online web portal.
  • Store all relevant data including file attachments, notes, and all financial data such as reserves, payments, recoveries, and more.
  • Provide CFO and management dashboards to show the financial impact of claims and incidents, trends, proactive measures being implemented and more, easily providing an ROI.
  • Show year-over-year cost comparisons for departments, locations, insurance premiums, claims, legal, and more.
  • Store all asset schedules (property/vehicle/equipment), insurance policies, insurance certificates, contracts, departments/divisions, employees and contacts and relate this data to your claims and incidents.
  • Implement ClearRisk’s fully automated Occupational Health & Safety module to ensure employee training and certifications are up to date.

Want more information on ClearRisk's Claims, Incident, and Risk Management System?

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