Canadian Underwriter

What to tell ‘non-essential’ clients who are closing their workplaces

April 8, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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If your clients are temporarily closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this might be a good time for them to undertake some repairs and let the fire department know they are reducing on-site staff, advises commercial insurer FM Global.

“Countless companies across many industries have paused operations around the world in what has been billed as the biggest factory shutdown since World War II, and more closings are expected,” FM Global chief financial officer Kevin Ingram said Tuesday in a release.

“This is an ideal time to perform overdue maintenance, whether it’s repairing expensive machinery or fixing a small roof leak that, if untreated, could delay your reopening and return to profitability,” FM Global said in the release that warns commercial property clients of the risks of a shutdown.

In Canada there are now 19,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the Canadian Press reported Wednesday.

Different provinces have different approaches. In Alberta, all non-essential businesses have been ordered closed, including personal service providers, clothing stores, and furniture stores, reports CP.

In Ontario, all workplaces deemed non-essential have been ordered closed. This includes bars and restaurants (except for takeout and delivery), as well as recreational facilities, public libraries, private schools, licensed child-care centres, movie theatres, and concert venues.

Under-staffed facilities are vulnerable, FM Global warned Wednesday.

“Have maintenance staff check daily to ensure sprinkler valves are locked open. Remove debris and ignitable liquids, and closely monitor any welding or other ‘hot work’ taking place on the property,” said FM Global.

Clients who close down should also let the local fire department know of a building’s change in use.

“Contact authorities and explain that security and maintenance personnel on your site are ‘essential’ in the context of stay-at-home orders,” advises FM Global.

“Maintain staff to perform regular daily rounds inside and outside idle facilities. Watch for criminal activity, smoke, fire or property damage. Consider webcams and sensors to detect out-of-the-ordinary motion, heat or water flow.”

“Firms that stay vigilant are more likely to be the winners that get back to business at the earliest opportunity,” said Ingram.

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