Slips occur if the friction and traction between the feet and the surface on which you walk are unstable. Wet and oily surfaces, spills, and loose or unanchored surfaces are common causes of slips. Employees can fall for a range of reasons, including clutter, low lighting, and exposed cables.
Winter can be a treacherous time of year for slips and falls. In 2017, there were 20,460 ice, sleet, and snow-related injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Slips, trips, and falls account for most industrial accidents and 15% of all accidental deaths, making them second to cars as a cause of fatalities. Here are tips to prevent slips and falls in the workplace during the coldest months of the year.
How to Prevent Slips and Falls in the Workplace
1. Set up Workplace Basic Housekeeping Procedures
If housekeeping practices of your workplace are bad, the likelihood of employee accidents may increase. Set up housekeeping procedures for regular use. Tell your employees what they must do, who will do it, and what the area of work should look like. A single person or group of employees may have to be assigned to clean up, although individual responsibility is preferred.
2. Manage Your Expectations with Your Maintenance Staff or Snow Removal Vendor or Department
Tell them you want to remove any snow and ice accumulation right away. Discuss which entryways should first be cleared, and how often snow removal should take place. Create an accountability plan with the vendor or department head for personnel and workmanship issues. Ask your vendor or department head to give you a copy of the checklist of the important services provided to send out to employees.
3. Review Your Workplace for Any Potential Hazards
Identify any potholes and cracks which can cause problems during extreme weather. Arrange for maintenance ahead of snowstorms. Ensure waste is not obstructing drain pipes, grate covers, and catch basins. Use proper lighting systems that cover parking lots, ramps, and sidewalks, and they are routinely repaired to ensure that they function properly. Clear entrance steps and check handrails for damage so employees can grip when there are icy or snowy conditions.
Winter Safety Methods for Employees
Here are ways to remind your employees how to stay safe during the winter:
- Wear proper shoes – To prevent falls and slips, remind your employees to test the soles’ slickness and the heels. Shoelaces must be properly tied. Employees should wear shoes suitable for their tasks.
- Walk like a penguin – Walk slowly with knees slightly bent, weight toward the front, and take small steps. Use their arms for balance if they lose balance.
- Use marked paths and cleared walkways – Remind them to not use any shortcuts. If there’s still snow, don’t use it.
- Stay aware of conditions on walking surfaces – If they don’t take care to notice slippery surfaces, they will fall.
- If they fall, fall properly – Teach them to relax their muscles, tuck their chins, and avoid hitting their head against the pavement.
These procedures and methods can help prevent a common and sometimes deadly workplace fatality that happens every year. Prepare and keep your employees safe and healthy as the cold settles in and the snow comes.