Falls tend to be the cause of some of the most severe workplace injuries when it comes to snow and ice.
Hazards during the winter that can cause slips, trips and falls might be:
- Layers of ice forming, making surfaces more slippery
- Snowy and ice-covered sidewalk
- Slippery inside floor surfaces due to water, ice or snow tracked in by footwear
- Black ice, a thin, nearly invisible coating of ice
- Obstructed sidewalks and roadway
- Electrical hazards
Employers need to take safety precautions to prevent injuries to employees from slips, trips and falls.
Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls on Snow and Ice
To prevent slips, trips, and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm.
Once walking surfaces are cleaned of snow and ice, the following safety protocols and practices will help minimize injuries from slips, trips and falls.
- Set standards for wearing of appropriate footwear, both for when working inside and outdoors: Well-insulated, waterproof, has a non-slip thick sole and a wide low heel. Also, keep a pair of rubber over-shoes that fit over street shoes handy
- Clearly identify elevation changes that might not be visible under snow and ice, this includes steps, curbs and ramps.
- Discourage employees from taking shortcuts over snow piles and in areas where snow and ice removal is not possible
- Watch out for black ice
- When entering a building, watch for slippery floors and remove as much snow and water from footwear as possible so as not to create wet, slippery conditions inside.
- Use high quality track off mats in walking areas and change them regularly to ensure these areas stay dry
- Apply a slip resistant floor treatment in areas that tend to become wet and slippery
- Walk slowly and carefully doing what’s called the “penguin shuffle” and take short steps, especially in areas like parking lots that may still have some ice and snow patches. Walk flat-footed as possible in very icy areas.
- Avoid walking with your hands in your pockets or carrying items in your hands.
- Ensure you have good lighting in parking lots and walkways.
- Apply ice melt as necessary to keep walking areas clear and dry.