Every year several hundred thousand workers suffer on-the-job falls – many of them related to slipping accidents. Weather-related slips and falls are especially common during winter. Weather-related slips, trips, and falls become a serious hazard, as snowy conditions often make for wet or icy surfaces outdoors. Even wet leaves or mud can create treacherous walking conditions. And spills and leaks indoors can always lead to slips and falls anytime during the year.
Although slips and falls usually aren’t fatal, they can cause broken bones and back injuries. If an employee suffers a slip or fall injury, it could cost you lost workdays, not to mention workers’ compensation, and other medical expenses. If a visitor is injured, you could face an expensive lawsuit. To prevent or reduce slip-ups on your property, in winter and throughout the year, we’d recommend that you:
- Focus on awareness training. Short safety meetings in every department will get people thinking about slipping hazards-and taking precautions to prevent falls.
- Create a slip-free zone … inside and out. Inside, remind employees to clean up spills, drips, and leaks immediately (even a little coffee spill on the floor can cause an injury). Make sure maintenance personnel and other employees put up signs or barriers to warn people when floors are wet, slippery, or otherwise hazardous. And be sure that on wet days, somebody is assigned to put down mats near entryways to help keep floors dry. Outside, see that slippery spots are sanded or salted immediately. Encourage employees to wear sensible shoes with nonskid soles. Also remind them to wipe their feet when they come in, and to walk slowly and take smaller steps on wet or slippery surfaces.
- Encourage employees to report slippery conditions. Make sure that they know how, and to whom, to report any slipping hazards they can’t clean up effectively inside. Make it easy for them to report any slipping hazards they notice outside, on walkways, in parking lots, or anywhere else on your property; that way, maintenance can get to the scene quickly and remove the hazard before an employee or visitor slips and falls. (As a matter of course, stress that every employee must fix or report any hazardous condition that they find at your facility.)