As a self-storage facility operator, the last thing you want is for one of your customers, guests or employees to hurt himself onsite. Accidents occur all the time. Of course, no one intends for them to happen—that’s why they’re accidents! But there are ways to prevent or minimize most incidents. You have a responsibility to be aware of loss prevention and do what you can to avoid mishaps and injuries.
Stay on Top of Maintenance
You need to make loss control and accident prevention a top, daily priority. One of the best ways to do this is to keep up with facility maintenance. Replacing lightbulbs and sealing cracked concrete may seem like never-ending jobs, but they’re important when you consider the safety of customers and staff. Falling behind on upkeep will increase the chances of injury, which could make the business more liable in the event of an accident.
Keep your aisles clear of trash and objects that may have been left behind by tenants. Managers should walk the site routinely to ensure nothing is out of sorts. If they come across something that needs to be fixed or cleaned, it should be priority.
Educate Customers and Staff
Customers should be informed and educated about site safety. They aren’t familiar with this kind of environment and may not be aware of issues that could arise or the basic measures that should be observed. New tenants should be “shown the ropes” and get a quick introduction to any unique property features. For example, do your unit doors have handles or a pull cord? This could be brand new to a customer, and a quick lesson on how to properly open and close the door can be valuable.
Facility employees should be properly trained as well. Keep them in the loop on any important site changes or ongoing maintenance issues. Create a handbook with injury-prevention tips and procedures for them to review. This will keep them safer and allow them to do their part in protecting guests and customers. Owners should keep a clear line of communication with their staff.
Finally, hang signs or posters with safety tips and recommendations for tenants and even employees. For example, consider posting a sign instructing people to use a step stool rather than standing on boxes. It may sound silly, but not everyone uses the same common sense; and I’d rather be silly than experience a completely avoidable accident.
Minimize the Damage
Not all accidents are avoidable. Even the best run self-storage facility is likely to experience a mishap from time to time. However, there are important steps that will help minimize further damage and keep things from escalating.
The first thing to do if there’s an accident is to breathe and keep calm. Understandably, it can be a stressful situation for those involved; but there’s no need to panic when someone gets injured. Evaluate the situation quickly and determine if medical attention is needed. If so, call 911 right away.
Once everyone is safe, you’ll want to immediately file a claim with your insurance company. Documentation is critical and will be helpful for resolving any claim as quickly as possible. Incident reports should be filed right away. Before and after photos can come in handy as well.
It’s very important that you don’t take any responsibility for the incident. You can be sympathetic and supportive—do what you can to help the injured party—but don’t admit guilt or take blame. While you want to be kind and helpful, remember to shield yourself and the business.
Have the Right Insurance
Protecting your storage facility really starts with having the right insurance coverage. General-liability usually covers “trip and fall” injuries, but medical payment is another crucial coverage to include in your policy. This is a form of “no-fault” insurance that can help cover onsite injuries and prevent them from escalating to a legal battle. It’s usually set with a per-person limit. It’s up to the carrier to determine if medical payments are appropriate for a claim. Otherwise, it would fall into general liability. This can help pay larger claims and associated legal expenses.
Keep in mind, if an employee is injured in an accident, he’s not going to be covered under your standard insurance policy. It’s imperative to have a workers’ compensation policy. A self-storage insurance agent can talk to you about your facility’s specific needs to help you determine the appropriate coverages and types of policies you may need for your insurance portfolio.
Avoiding accidents and personal injury at your self-storage facility takes planning and preparation; but with proper consideration, you can eliminate some extra risk and prevent calamities. Being diligent and practicing these risk-management tips will help you keep your customers and employees happy as well as protect your business.
Melanie Wichelman is an account executive with Universal Insurance Programs, which has created and provided specialized insurance coverages to the self-storage industry for more than 20 years. For more information, call 800.844.2101; visit www.universalinsuranceltd.com.