When workplaces consider slip and fall hazards this time of year, their strategy often factors in customers and clients. Where could someone slip, what injuries could happen and what’s the best way to reduce hazards? Keep in mind that your workers – including full-time, part-time, seasonal staff and contractors – can also be injured on your grounds. According to 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, 34,860 slip and fall injuries involving ice, sleet or snow resulted in at least one day away from the job to recover. This figure does not reflect those who experienced injuries, but continued to work.

A single staff member’s slip and fall injury can create a ripple effect:

  • Lost productivity
  • Paying overtime to staff
  • Finding and paying a temporary employee
  • Higher workers’ compensation costs

This time of year, one-third of all workers’ compensation claims can be traced back to a slip and fall injury related to ice and snow around the workplace. To create a safer environment for your staff, you can begin with the following tips.

1. Get Ready Before the Season

injured worker holding his backDoes your company have a plan for snow removal? Are all supplies ready and purchased? So you don’t get caught by surprise:

  • Always monitor the weather and changing conditions. Know when snow might hit or when rain could freeze over in the parking lot.
  • Make sure your maintenance staff has the right tools and supplies for cleaning up snow and ice.
  • Make sure these supplies are stored in easily accessible areas

Along with these points, have a plan for maintaining the property – either in-house or with a snow removal vendor – before the season begins. Yours should address:

  • How snow will be removed and salt applied to icy areas in a quick and orderly manner.
  • Which entrances will be cleaned first.
  • How often per day snow removal should occur.
  • Who is responsible for which tasks.
  • Where snow will be piled to avoid melting and refreezing hazards.
  • How to handle staffing problems, so that key tasks are not overlooked.

Identify Key Areas and Hazards

As surveys have identified, certain areas of the workplace tend to be more slip-prone than others. Before the snow falls, know how to handle:

  • Parking Lots: These areas account for 25 percent of all employee-related slips and falls, with 20 percent of such injuries resulting in time off from work.
  • Potholes and Cracks: Should ice repeatedly freeze here, these hazards may worsen throughout the season.
  • Drainage: Make sure that snow and ice won’t cause drain pipes, grate covers and basins to become clogged with flowing debris.
  • Ice Dams: From water freezing over to falling ice and roof damage, these are a hazard that harms the structure of your building. Make sure maintenance has a plan for regularly cleaning off your roof and regulating its temperature.
  • Lighting: Ensure your building’s interior and parking lot are well-lit, so your workers can see ice, puddles and other slip and trip hazards.
  • Steps: If not cleaned and equipped with handrails, stairs can quickly turn into a slip hazard for your staff.

The Interior

While a large percentage of slips and falls occur outdoors, snow and ice are easily tracked indoors and can soon become a hazard. To prepare, your staff should:

  • Make a plan for keeping entrances and walkways dry. This process may entail using a floor fan, setting up textured floor mats and warning of the hazard with “wet floor” signs and barriers.
  • Change any mats in walkways and entrances. While they add traction, they can soak through quickly and could turn into another slip hazard.
  • Consider a slip-resistant floor treatment in these common areas.
  • Regularly clean the floors to prevent debris and water from building up.
  • If you see or are notified of a slip hazard, take swift and appropriate action to address it as soon as possible.

Brief Your Employees on Winter Safety

Do your workers know how to handle a slippery floor? To prevent a wet walkway or ice-covered parking lot from turning into workers’ compensation claims, address:

  • Proper footwear. Workers may be expected to wear slip-resistant boots with treads.
  • How to walk across slippery, wet conditions.
  • How to spot black ice.
  • How to get in and out of vehicles.
  • The best ways to carry items.
  • Keeping hands and arms free.
  • What to do in the event of a fall.

Businesses looking to save money may ignore these strategies, then put the blame on their employees. If you were placed in unsafe working conditions and experienced an on-the-job injury, turn to Trantolo & Trantolo’s team of lawyers for assistance. To learn about what we can do, give us a call today.