Premises Liability

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            BY RICK HEIDMAN
                                               Premises liability

A        NY BUSINESS that invites customers onto its premises is
           required to protect them from injury. Farm equipment dealers
            are no different – you must protect visitors while they are
at your dealership.
    Injuries to customers in equipment dealerships are quite rare. But
                                                                            by customers to the parts area and shop area. Those areas have a great
                                                                            potential to cause severe injury to someone who isn’t familiar with
                                                                            the surroundings.

                                                                            How do you prevent access to restricted areas?
given the nature of your business, if an accident does occur the injuries   The first step is to post signs stating that only employees are allowed
have the potential to be serious.                                           in these areas. Federated Insurance has signs that can be ordered free
    Every business must protect against accidents, such as slips and        of charge by our clients to satisfy this requirement. Posting these signs
falls, and your general housekeeping procedures will help protect you       will prevent some customers from accessing restricted areas but not
against any accident from occurring. A more important concern for           all customers.
your business is to prevent an injury or accident by restricting access         The second step to restrict access to certain areas is to design your
                                                                                     front area in such a way that makes access difficult. Add
                                                                                     swinging gates next to a counter or have entryways to the
                                                                                     shop or parts area located in a such a way that an employee
                                                                                     can monitor who goes where. These types of designs discour-
                                                                                     age easy access and also allow employees to monitor who is
                                                                                     accessing the areas.

                                                                                     …you must protect visitors while they are
                                                                                     at your dealership.

                                                                                         Lastly, for any prevention techniques, the critical
                                                                                     component of ensuring the success is to have employees
                                                                                     enforce the policies that you have created. Any effort will
                                                                                     not succeed if your employees ignore them or are not aware
                                                                                     of the policy. Train your employees about your policies and
                                                                                     remind them occasionally.
                                                                                         Sometimes customers need to access these areas. When
                                                                                     this occurs, ensure that an employee always accompanies the
                                                                                     customer to advise the visitor about any potential hazards.

                                                                                     What do you do if an accident occurs?
                                                                                     Your first consideration is to attend to the injured person. First
                                                                                     aid should be provided and, if necessary, an ambulance should
                                                                                     be called. Secondly, to help protect you in the event that a
                                                                                     lawsuit is filed, you should document the accident scene and
                                                                                     the conditions present. Filling out an accident report and, in
                                                                                     some instances, taking photographs of the scene will preserve
                                                                                     the details of the accident and could help keep the costs of a
                                                                                     lawsuit low.
                                                                                         Federated Insurance offers a resource to help you manage
                                                                                     your premises liability. It is available in Adobe Acrobat format
                                                                                     at in the news section of our loss prevention
                                                                                     area. You can also order the booklet, which includes a sample
                                                                                     accident report form. 

                                                                                     RICK HEIDMAN is a loss prevention program coordinator with Federated
                                                                                     Insurance in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He may be reached by calling 800/665-1934
                                                                                     or sending an email to