Winter is upon us and snow is soon to follow. Unfortunately, snow creates hazards not only on the roads, but in many unexpected places in your public entity. For instance, hills are often overlooked as a hazard that needs to be managed and every year thousands of people are injured in sledding related accidents. This means your public entity could be at risk for a lawsuit. OneBeacon Government Risks (OBGR) wants your public entity to be prepared, so before the snow begins to fall this winter, we have provided some of the appropriate precautions you should 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 including no building of ramps, sledding hours, and sled at your own risk signage 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 would like additional information on the topics discussed in this article, please contact us at OBGRRiskControl@onebeacongov.com.
To learn more about OneBeacon Government Risks visit onebeacongov.com