As it gets colder and the winter settles in, the number of slips and falls increases. Although everyone should take precautions to prevent winter slips and falls, employers need to be particularly aware of the dangers and prevention strategies for avoiding these sorts of accidents. Winter slips and falls are especially damaging for employers since these can result in increased downtime, more sick days, higher healthcare costs and workman’s comp, as well as overall reduced efficiency and profitd. The situation is especially acute in Canada and the Northern United States where the winter months are cold and icy - business owners in these regions need to be aware of the dangers caused by slippery surfaces and need to take preventive action.
Follow these simple precautionary tips to help prevent injuries from slips and falls in the workplace this winter:
Basic winter safety guidelines:
- Don’t get caught by surprise. Monitor the weather and changing conditions.
- Keep adequate supplies of snow and ice removal tools in accessible areas.
- Apply ice melt and use a shovel to keep walking areas clean and dry.
- Look for the areas where ice tends to form. Remove ice accumulations and apply additional ice liquefier to prevent buildup.
- Provide clear path markings and good lighting in parking zones and walkways.
- Clear ramps, elevations and steps that might not be visible in snowy conditions.
- Contract with a snow/ice removal company to keep your parking zone clear of ice and snow
- Place high quality, bevelled edge track off mats in walkways subjected to water or snow accumulation. Change floor mats regularly to ensure the place are dry.
- Employees who are often outside working should wear anti-slip ice cleats on their shoes or boots.
Create a fall prevention program:
- Set standards for the condition of your parking lot and paths and for wearing of appropriate footwear.
- Define everyone’s role in preventing falls and slips
- Communicate roles and standards to all staff
- Train workers who keep walkways clear.
- Check that standard are met and that the program works.
Train employees to:
- Wear suitable winter footwear which is well insulated, waterproof, thick sole, has a non-slip and a wide, low heel. Proper footwear in combination with ice grippers like ice cleats, crampons or ice grips are key to help improving safety while working on ice and snow.
- Use walkways that have been shovelled or salted. Do not encourage taking shortcuts over snow piles and in places where snow and ice removal is not possible.
- Test your travel path for slickness by sliding your shoe or boot on it before proceeding.
- When entering or exiting cars, use it for support. Don’t exit or enter your car too quickly.
- When entering any building, remove as much water and snow from boots as possible so that it does not create wet, slippery surface indoors.
- Spread sand or salt or liquefiers when you see icy spots. You can help to reduce the number of slips and falls by taking safety precaution.
- Do the penguin shuffle. – Walk flat-footed. – Take short steps to maintain your centre of balance over your feet. – Keep your head up and don’t lean forward. – Walk slowly. Never run on snow- or ice-covered surfaces.
To reach your employees with creative solutions on safety habits, train your employees to take precautions when working on the job. Create workshops to give your employees practical knowledge on how to respond to slip accidents. Also make it mandatory to use anti-slip ice grippers when working on the work to prevent slips and falls on icy surfaces – it’s small investment that will surely have a big impact on winter safety.