Weather-Related Slips, Trips and Falls are Preventable

Weather-Related Slips, Trips and Falls are Preventable

January 12, 2021

No industry or business is exempt from injuries that result from inclement weather. Rain, sleet, snow and ice are hazards to every business.

As an employer, you are responsible for the safety of employees once they report to work. Help your employees get in and out of your building safely. Prevent slips, trips and falls, reduce the potential for other winter weather-related injuries, and help everyone work safely this winter.

Here are some tips to assist you in preventing weather-related slips and falls and help reduce the potential for injuries.

  • Establish who is responsible for snow and ice removal, i.e., facility managers, custodians, grounds maintenance staff and contracted snow removal personnel. Make sure that all responsible parties are aware of the specific locations they are to remove snow.
  • Develop procedures for safely maintaining walkway surfaces, and educate employees on these procedures. Inform employees of the location of equipment and supplies.
  • Plow, shovel and use de-icing, salting or ice melting chemicals to remove ice and snow.
  • Apply de-icing chemicals before a storm, followed by snow/ice removal during and after the storm. Use plenty of de-icing materials, as using “barely enough” will leave patches of ice.
  • The initial step in de-icing is choosing a de-icing agent. When selecting ice melting chemicals, here are some things to consider:
    • Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the least expensive but is somewhat corrosive and can damage concrete, interior surfaces and vegetation. It may need a wetting agent when used at low temperatures.
    • Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are more effective than rock salt and most effective at lower temperatures. Magnesium chloride is somewhat less corrosive than calcium chloride, which is about as corrosive as rock salt.
    • Calcium magnesium acetate is the most environmentally friendly but is more expensive and is least effective at lower temperatures.
  • Effective ice removal often occurs during the day with full sun. But full sun will melt adjacent snow or ice, placing water runoff on the de-iced walking surface. This will dilute the solution and tend to refreeze at night. With dropping temperatures, ice can re-form with falls occurring first thing in the morning.
  • Aim for evaporation. If the water can drain (e.g., drains aren’t blocked) and there is full sun or even reasonable wind, the water (even ice) will evaporate. A dry pavement is a clear indication there is no ice.
  • Use a friction additive. Sand is the most popular because it is cheap. Use a lot of it.
  • Check and treat surfaces every morning, especially around snow piles where melting may have created new problem areas. Reevaluate during the day and treat as needed.
  • Remember that a clean-looking surface is only “safe” if it is dry. A wet surface can contain ice and also can turn to ice in the shade or overnight.
  • Ensure designated parking areas are cleared prior to employee arrival and departure times.
  • Designate specific entrances and walkways closest to the specified parking locations for use during inclement weather. Ensure these areas are treated first by the maintenance crews/vendors. Once these have been sufficiently treated, the crews can move on to those other areas once the pathways for the first arriving/departing employees have been completed.
  • As conditions can change rapidly, have systems in place to monitor walkways at specified intervals for ongoing treatment throughout inclement weather.
  • Have all employees utilize designated walkways and enforce this practice.
  • Place a bench near employee entrances for employees to use while changing footwear and doning/doffing boots or cleats.
  • Have snow removal equipment and supplies readily available. Keep shovels and ice melt near all walkway entrances.
  • Take advantage of technology — telephone or text to alert employees to use caution when entering building.
  • Place walk-off mats at all entrance doors.
  • Inspect the mats weekly to ensure they are in good shape.
  • Mats should allow for a minimum of 10 paces in the normal direction of travel in order to absorb water and snow that may accumulate at entrances during inclement weather.
  • Mats should be constructed of rubber or cocoa fiber, which help remove water and dirt from shoes. The color of the mats should contrast with the color of the flooring, and mat edges should taper down to the floor for a smooth transition to the floor’s surface.
  • Under severe conditions, consider posting a janitorial staff member at each entrance to warn employees and customers entering the area about the slipping hazard and to manually mop any excess water that may accumulate.
  • Provide employees who do not report regularly to an office, such as home health aides, sales representatives, and service technicians; with kitty litter or small kits for their vehicles to treat ice or snow covered walkways as they may come upon them.
  • It is recommend that employees wear slip resistant shoes wherever they may be exposed to wet surfaces and consider slip-over grips to make walking in the snow safer.

Article provided by Eastern Alliance

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