Commercial property owners and managers need to be vigilant about preventing property damage and personal injury. It is important to recognize that landscape-related hazards could cause accidents that could result in liability for negligence. Businesses that operate a commercial property must take effective steps aimed at preventing dangerous landscaping conditions and averting potentially costly premises liability claims.
Walkway Trip Hazards and Maintenance
A few stray leaves or the grassy debris produced after mowing may not seem like a serious trip hazard if they should happen to make their way off of a lawn and onto a walkway. However, just a moderate amount of rain could cause these types of materials to become extremely slippery when wet. Likewise, plain dirt or soil on a walkway can take on a loose and slick texture after a rainfall. Keeping a walkway clear of leafy debris or other earthy materials can help ensure that surfaces are safe to walk on and thereby play an important role in accident prevention.
During a big storm, large tree branches can become loose and precarious. Heavy winds and rainfall can destabilize branches, causing them to bend and eventually snap. Branches can also break off of a tree due to age. They may lose their density and start to rot when they cease to be living extensions of an otherwise intact tree. Likewise, certain species of insects that occupy the inside of trees may eat away at them from the inside. In some cases, healthy branches can break off in the absence of any weather-related event simply because they grow disproportionately large and a tree’s base cannot support their weight. In all of these scenarios, the risk of falling branches could represent a serious safety concern.
A landscaping professional may be able to identify if parts of a tree’s branch structure may pose a safety hazard on a commercial property. This is a particularly important preventative safety step to take before a severe weather event is expected to strike. During a major storm, heavy winds can tear branches off of trees and carry them a considerable distance, possibly causing them to strike property or people. Preventative tree maintenance reduces the risk that fallen branches will collide with a person, destroy property, or create a trip hazard after they have fallen to the ground.
After a large storm, it is a good practice to inspect a commercial property for fallen branches. In the context of premises liability, a person or business entity is culpable not only for hazards that they are aware of but also for those that they should have reasonably been aware of. A personal injury claimant who tripped on a branch could assert that a business should have reasonably known that there could be a dangerous condition on their commercial property because there was a major storm in the area.
An entire tree could come toppling to the ground and create considerable damage to other landscaping elements or personal property belonging to the patrons of a business. An experienced landscaper or arborist may be able to observe changes to a tree’s root structure which could be a warning sign that a tree is at risk of falling. Periodic inspections of trees and prompt corrective action when a tree starts to uproot can help with accident prevention.
Divots and Unevenness
A variety of things could cause small or large holes in a grassy area. In some cases, simply walking through an area when the ground is soft can cause deep indentations and divots. Small impressions and uneven patches can gradually increase in size and eventually become sizable trip hazards.
Hazards in Green Spaces
These types of hazards can be particularly dangerous simply because they may be difficult to spot. It is a lot harder to see a small hole than it is to see a foreign object on the ground ahead. A depression on a grassy or earthy surface is likely to have the same color and appearance as the ground immediately surrounding it, so people would have to be watching their step very closely in order to take notice.
A landscaping company can help commercial property owners with accident prevention involving falls by keeping green spaces even. They can fill in depressions and correct dangerous sloping. It may also be possible to remove the earth in areas where displaced soil has formed small mounds that people could easily trip on.
Parking Area Accident Prevention
Aesthetically pleasing landscape design around a parking area is a great way for businesses to make a good impression on customers as soon as they enter a commercial property. However, it is necessary to consider how certain landscaping elements could impact safety.
Landscaping Elements and Safety
A parking area’s landscaping must be well-tended in order to keep lots clear of materials that could interfere with vehicles’ braking ability. Also, it is imperative that trees or hedges do not obstruct anyone’s view while they are driving through a lot or pulling out of a space. A poorly placed or overgrown hedge could make it impossible for drivers to see other vehicles turning in their direction. In addition, it may be difficult to exit a lot safely if a tree or other types of vegetation get in the way of oncoming traffic. If a driver can only see a hedge instead of right-bound traffic, the hedge would represent an inherently unsafe condition on a commercial property.
Safety in Design and Maintenance Plans for Lots
Efforts geared towards ensuring that a parking area’s landscaping is safe should start in the design process. Landscaping professionals can suggest installations that will not impact visibility anywhere inside of a lot including its entrance and exit points. They can also provide property owners with guidance about what maintenance will be necessary to prevent overgrowths that could become problematic over time.
Remediating Current Lot Hazards
If an existing installation is a source of concern for property owners, a knowledgeable landscaper can offer input about whether it is prudent to replace it. Alternatively, the landscaper may suggest modifications that can effectively resolve concerns about visibility.
Commercial property owners should establish service relationships with a professional landscaping company that is well-versed in recognizing and preventing the most common type of landscape-related hazards. At GreenSeasons Landscaping, our team members are trained to perform work safely and create custom landscaping solutions that promote a safe environment for your business's employees and its patrons. We understand that landscaping is not all about aesthetics. We use smart design and strategic maintenance to provide our customers with landscaping that is visually pleasing but also safe and functional. Contact GreenSeasons Landscaping today to learn more about what we can do for your business's commercial property.