Slip and fall accidents increase as winter arrives and the snow and ice hit. While there is no controlling the winter weather, there are a number of steps workplaces and their employees can take to prevent accidents and injuries.
Parking Lots and Walkways
- Watch for and repair parking lot and sidewalk damage such as cracks and holes, which not only trap snow and ice but can become worse during thawing and freezing cycles.
- Keep an eye out for drainage and water collection patterns that will freeze and require more maintenance, both in terms of plowing, and sanding and salting.
- Remind employees to wear practical footwear for the weather. Shoes or boots with good traction will help prevent slips.
- Make sure that entryways and walkways are well lit so that employees can spot hazards before they are caught off guard.
- Repair cracks and uneven pavement soon as possible and preferably before the winter season settles in – call today if your lots or walkways have these issues.
Entrances and Exits
- Keep watch over entrances and exits where snow can be tracked in, and keep these areas clean and dry. A wet mat or rug is as dangerous as slick tiles. Switch out and dry mats and keep water off flooring.
- Salt or sand buckets kept near entryways will encourage frequent application to reduce the amount of snow tracked inside.
- Open communication for employees to report snow and ice hazards to supervisors. And make sure reports are addressed swiftly to encourage continued cooperation.
- Post signs and distribute materials to employees to address safety concerns for winter weather hazards.
- Conduct meetings and distribute materials addressing winter safety at least monthly; as the winter wears on, attention and vigilance may wane and keeping safety in mind is important.
- Encourage employees to provide weather and safety suggestions that can be shared via displays, newsletters, or other communication.
Walking on Ice
Use of appropriate footwear can prevent injury
- Avoid walking on slippery surfaces while wearing high heels – bring an extra change of shoes if necessary.
- Many dress shoes do not have suitable traction on their soles. If needed, wear more suitable footwear and bring shoes for the office.
- Watch for older footwear whose treads may have worn down through use – worn treads is equal to no treads in regards to traction.
In hazardous circumstances, modify the way you walk to sustain your center of gravity over your feet
- Shorten your stride – shorter steps.
- Walk with your feet spread apart slightly.
- Use your arms for balance and take care with carried items that might throw you off balance or restrict movement.
- Slow down! Especially if the surface is not only slippery, but uneven.
- Ice is more slippery than snow.
- Snow-covered ice is deceptive, and more slippery than bare ice.
- Wipe or stomp snow off your feet before entering a building. This makes things less slick for you, and keeps the floor dryer for others coming in after you.
The preventative steps above should always be used in conjunction with good sound judgment.
And remember to have damaged pavement and walkways repaired as early as possible – preventative maintenance saves from costly falls and additional damage later.