Spring into Action: Preventing Business Vulnerabilities

Spring into Action: Preventing Business Vulnerabilities

By Mark McCormick, Vice President, Risk Solutions, Eastern Region, QBE North America 

A new season can bring new risks, making it a critical time for business owners to identify potential risks, address vulnerabilities and evaluate the current state of your business. Spring 2023 is predicted to bring an increase in weather events, from heavy rain and thunderstorms to potentially severe events like tornadoes and hurricanes, according to The Farmer’s Almanac Spring 2023 weather forecast

Having a plan in place can help minimize loss and ensure a quicker recovery if something does go wrong. Here are some best practices to help you better predict, prepare and protect your business throughout the spring: 

Locate, map and label indoor and outdoor shut-off valves (water, sprinkler, gas, etc.) and know how and when to use them.
Create an emergency plan and review and practice it with employees. 
Review and update your business continuity plan. Identify alternate suppliers to keep your business up and running and recover faster if a major disruption occurs.

Inspect and Test
Perform fleet maintenance, including inspecting vehicles, and checking wiper blades, tire pressure, treads and oil filters. 
Inspect any exterior foliage and trees and trim as needed to prevent potential property damage and incoming power supply interruption. 
Assess pipes for damage or substantial wear to avoid leaking pipes. 
Check concrete, sidewalks, decks and any other walking areas where hazards may have resulted from winter weather and address as needed. 
Perform necessary maintenance on any power equipment, including emergency generators, outdoor lighting and grills. 
If your facility includes playgrounds, recreational equipment or a pool, perform necessary inspections and maintenance.
Inspect and test all sump pump and de-watering equipment.
Test your fire and smoke detection systems.

Remove any unwanted clutter and debris from the interior and exterior of the property.
Review stored flammable and combustible liquids, such as old paints, and discard any materials not used within the last year. 
Clear gutters and downspouts and conduct roof inspections. Check with your property manager on making those updates and fixes beforehand.
Clear any surface drains and grates. Check for site erosion or changes to drainage paths.
Clean or replace HVAC air filters and schedule service if needed.
Clean and safely store any winter-related power equipment and secure flammable fuels properly. 

In the event of property damage, there are steps you can take to get the problem solved as quickly as possible and ensure the facility is safe from another catastrophe. Here are tips from QBE if a disaster does occur: 

Conduct a damage assessment as soon as the area is safe to enter.
Inspect all fire protection equipment for physical damage, including sprinkler heads, valves, pipes, hoses and portable extinguishers. 
Take photos or video of any damage prior to clean-up and any restoration.
Have damaged equipment cleaned, dried out and the electrical insulation tested.
Service heating equipment by a qualified technician before returning it to operation.
Monitor portable and emergency generator use for carbon monoxide buildup, power back feeds and improper fueling.

Considering the risks to your business and taking preventative steps can go a long way, but some losses are unpredictable no matter how prepared you are. That is why we recommend business owners review your insurance policies at the start of spring to ensure you have the correct coverage, and note if there have been changes to operations, property, staffing or the working environment.