Slips and falls are the leading cause of accidental injury in the workplace. And we’re entering prime time for these injuries to affect your employees (and the public!), because nearly half of slip and fall injuries occur between December and March. Don’t let winter weather get the best of you. Make your walkways safer with these tips.
Plan Ahead for Snow Season
It’s not too late to make a plan for dealing with snowfall. If you contract with any snow removal companies, make sure you have contracts in place that define important details such as depth and weather triggers, timing of service, areas to cover and where snow will be piled. For slip and fall prevention, make sure there is a focus on areas with the most pedestrian traffic.
Observe your walking surfaces (sidewalks, parking lots, etc.) and notice where water (soon to be ice) collects. Reroute gutters that discharge onto walkways, and repair low spots that fill with precipitation. Plan snow pile placement to avoid snowmelt running onto pedestrian paths where it can refreeze into very slippery black ice.
Service your snow blowers and plows so they’re ready when the weather is. Consider a power brush for snow removal—they typically leave a cleaner (and safer) walking surface.
Be Strategic with Snow Removal
During a winter weather event, your snow removal efforts will be most effective if you start with mechanical removal (plow, blower, shovel, etc.) followed by ice melt and abrasives as necessary. Applying liquid brine before the storm hits can help prevent ice and snow from bonding to the pavement, making it easier to remove.
Whenever possible, clear walkways and parking lots before employees and visitors arrive. Monitor snow conditions throughout the day and remove accumulation or apply ice control products/traction aids as needed, paying special attention to high-traffic times like lunch time or the end of the day. You can make it easier for employees to maintain clear walkways by keeping snow removal supplies, such as a shovel and bucket of ice melt, near entrances where they can be accessed easily.
Don’t Forget about Indoor Walking Surfaces
As snow and ice accumulates outdoors, employees and visitors will inevitably track it indoors where it will melt and create an additional slip hazard.
Mats at your entrances are your first line of defense against migrating moisture. Add extra walk-off mats before weather events, and keep an eye out for puddles on the floor that might indicate the mats are saturated. Mop up wet spots, put up a wet floor sign to warn pedestrians and either replace the soaked mat or dry it in place with a wet vacuum or extractor. Don’t forget to remove the wet floor sign once the floor has dried—leaving it up unnecessarily puts another trip hazard in the path of walkers.
Encourage Employee Involvement
Employees are your best source of information about new slip and fall hazards, so encourage them to report hazards that need to be addressed. You can also get your staff involved in prevention efforts by providing training, putting up awareness posters and sharing commonsense winter walking tips.