Are you prepared for winter fun?
With snow beginning to fall throughout the country, thoughts turn to sledding and tubing down hills. Your public entity may turn into a winter playground. OneBeacon Government Risks (OBGR) wants your public entity to be prepared to deliver on the fun but also to have the appropriate precautions in place.
Every year, thousands of people are injured in sledding-related accidents. Whether you decide to allow sledding or not, if something happens, your public entity could be at risk for a lawsuit. Knowing and preparing for the hazards is the safest and best approach.
Below are some tips to consider:
- Selection: If you elect to allow sledding, choosing the right hill(s) can help your entity avoid some exposures. Avoid hills that end near a street, parking lot, fence, pond, or other hazards. Pick a hill that isn’t too steep or too icy. Keep in mind, while sledding is fun, it can create liability exposures. Selecting the right hill with no hazards is the first step to reducing your entity’s exposure. And, icy hills can mean a harder and more dangerous landing for the user. If you don’t elect to allow sledding then proper signage is important. If you choose to go this route then enforcement is a must.
- Signage: Ensuring your designated sledding hill(s) are properly marked with signs is important but there are a few other necessary messages that your entity should consider. Posting rules to use the hill, hours, no building of ramps, and sled at your own risk helps to reduce your liability exposure
- Hazards: If your entity has a designated sledding hill(s), remove all hazards (trees, rocks, ditches, walls, debris…). Use signage and place barriers around hazards that cannot be removed.
For more information on signage, download an OBGR guide to signs, “Municipal Signs (Non-MUTCD), Communicating Hazards and Regulations: Do I need warning signs?”
Remember to always consult with your legal staff, city council and parks department to determine the best approach regarding hills and sledding so when the next snowfall hits your public entity is prepared.
If you need assistance or would like additional information on the topics discussed in this article, please contact us at OBGRRiskControl@onebeacongov.com.