Prevent worker, visitor slips and falls this winter
Injuries due to slips and falls are one of the most frequently reported workers’ compensation claims. While these accidents can happen anywhere, any time, they typically spike during the winter months. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20,000 workplace injuries due to falls from snow, sleet, and ice occurred in 2016. Of those, 28 percent resulted in more than a month off of work.
Employees and visitors alike are at risk, but with a proactive safety plan, slips and falls can be prevented.
Parking lots, sidewalks, and walkways are common areas for slip and fall injuries. To help stay safe while navigating parking lots in wintry conditions, the Snow and Ice Management Association recommends workers:
- Wear appropriate footwear with visible, heavy treads and a flat bottom.
- Walk slowly and consciously when snow or ice is present, and use handrails if available.
- Watch where they are stepping and anticipate slippery surfaces. Black ice can appear early in the morning, in shady areas, or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow refreezes at night.
- Stop listening to music or talking on a cell phone while walking.
- Be alert for any vehicles and snow removal equipment.
- Be mindful of wet floors when entering the workplace, as others may have tracked in snow and slush.
- Look up for snow or ice that may fall or break away from awnings, buildings and windows.
Further, outdoor surfaces should be included in your company’s maintenance program. Develop an outdoor slip and fall checklist that considers the following:
- Routine, corrective, and preventive sidewalk and parking lot maintenance. This includes keeping these surfaces clear of snow and ice.
- Precipitation, including rain, hail, sleet, snow, and fog, can all impact the ability to park and walk safely. Any time conditions change you’ll need to be on alert, increasing the frequency of surface monitoring.
- Falling leaves can lead to plugged drains or slippery sidewalks and parking lots.
- Ensure employees arriving early or leaving late have sufficient light to walk safely to and from their vehicles by adjusting automatic lighting timers as the days get shorter.
- Keep landscaping cut back near parking lot entrances and exits to help protect drivers and pedestrians.
- Slow driver’s down through the use of rumble strips instead of speed bumps. This is a safer way to get a driver’s attention.
- Be sure crosswalks in the parking lot are marked and easily seen by motorists, and keep pavement markings bright and easy to spot.
Remember, a thoughtfully prepared safety program will be ineffective without active participation. Create and foster an environment where employees are encouraged to provide feedback. This helps to promote an environment of respect and upholds safety as a fundamental organizational value.