Auto service garages

Don’t Let Winter Weather Hit Your Garage Head-On

While icy winter weather means more dings, scrapes and rear-ends for clients, don’t let it mean an accident in the shop. Cold and inclement weather poses risks for customers, employees and the four walls of the garage. Consider these tips this winter to put the brakes on any costly insurance claims.

Tip-Top Shop

Heed this heat advice: Avoid using space heaters at all lengths. If it’s absolutely necessary, keep them away from paper, rags or anything flammable. When plugging in to electrical outlets, make sure not to overload the current and keep cords from being pinched or having objects moved or left on them.

Even without a heat source, improperly-disposed-of oily rags present a major fire risk. If left in a waste can or in a pile on the floor, they can spontaneously combust ­– a severe threat to shops, employees and clients’ vehicles. This can easily be avoided by disposing shop rags properly in self-closing containers. They limit oxygen from fueling any flames. Encourage employees to correctly use containers as they clean throughout the day.

Water damage can be a show stopper. Maintain heat at the proper temperature in your facilities to protect against frozen pipes. Opening cabinets and letting water consistently drip can safeguard you against frozen pipes in extreme cold temperatures.

Finally, limit test drives in periods of inclement weather. Recalibrating original equipment manufacturer repairs may be impossible with dangerous roads conditions. Communicate with your customers and employees alike that these repairs will take longer or be on hold with winter weather. Like dad always says, “It’s them, not you!”

Snow Way

 Slips and falls are physically and financially taxing. Keeping sidewalks clear protects your customers and employees.

Water and ice often accumulate around entrances. Place nonslip mats in front of all doors that access the elements. Consider what was water yesterday could have frozen overnight into a sheet of slippery ice. Don’t forget about the lot where customers leave their vehicles as another slip and fall hazard.

Look up! Knock down icicles as soon as they form to prevent head injuries to customers, employees or Ralphie.

Employee ≠ Snow Shoveler

You rely on your employees to keep things running smoothly around the shop. Think twice before asking employees to grab that shovel, however. When they hurt their back, you could be held responsible with a costly worker’s compensation claim.

Instead, look in to hiring a professional snow removal service during the winter months. You may be able to get a better deal by going in with nearby business owners. You’ll get more consistent snow removal and keep your employees healthy doing the work they were trained to do.

Keep Collisions to the Cars

Winter weather cleanup can seem like one more step in what may be a shop’s busiest season, but proper shop safety and snow removal can limit winter damages just to your clients’ vehicles.

Bill Strout

Bill has been in the property casualty business for over 20 years. Diverse insurance experience and leadership from underwriting, sales, and wholesale insurance. Bill’s father was an owner of an agency in Chicago, so he grew up in the business. Outside of work, Bill enjoys time with his 3 kids and wife traveling.