While Wisconsin winters can be beautiful with snow covered trees and ice covered lakes, but along with the beauty of Wisconsin comes the dreaded ice and slippery streets, sidewalks and steps. According to Accident Fund Insurance Company of America and United Heartland, 33 percent of Wisconsin worker’s compensation injuries are winter-related slips and falls. Winter-related incidents can result in a laceration, broken bone, muscle injury, head injury, concussion and other trauma which can be the cause of lost work time, medical cost increase and increase of insurance claims. We do what we can to clear parking lots, salt walkways and remove snow cover from steps, but slips and falls still do occur.
While we can’t prevent winter from happening, we can take steps to reduce or prevent the number of falls for our fellow associates. Do you have a plan in place to prevent slips and falls? Who is responsible to clear your walkways and make sure your associates can walk in to work safely?
It’s a good idea to have designated people responsible to remove snow from walkways, parking lots and steps, and also make sure these designated people are given clear instructions on snow removal techniques. It is important to place salt or sand over the area where snow was removed because black ice does form quickly from temperature changes in cement, blacktop and gravel areas once the snow is removed. Do you have a designated door or walkway that is cleared first so you can direct your associates to entryways that get the most attention for snow and ice removal?
Here are some tips to develop a plan for slip and fall prevention:
- Educate associates regarding:
- proper non-skid footwear appropriate for ice and snow
- avoid carrying items and keep hands free for stabilization
- proper walking techniques on slippery surfaces
- proper falling techniques to prevent injury
- caution when getting in and out of vehicles
- Arrange for a safe, dedicated entryway that has few or no stairs
- Provide outdoor hand-rail for associates to use if needed
- Arrange for a designated person to travel the parking lot and offer rides for associates from their car to the entrance of the building
- Provide a phone number to employees for help if they require assistance
- Provide ice traction cleats for associates to walk into work on slippery days
- Place non-skid floor mats at all entrances along with caution cones to warn of slippery surfaces
- Maintain entryways to remove water and saturated floor mats
- Provide adequate lighting in parking areas for visibility of marked pathways and slippery surfaces
- Monitor weather and changing conditions
- Acknowledge success and make improvements to the plan for future use
While we can’t stop all slips and falls, having a plan and providing education may prevent a majority of falls for associates creating a safer environment for all weather scenarios.