Work still has to get done in the winter, so it is important for all workers to understand what they need to do to stay safe. Avoiding slip-and-fall accidents is one key element of getting through the winter months safely on or off the job.
Workers are at risk of falling in winter because of the increased risk of ice, snow, puddles and slick areas. While these falls might not typically result in fatal injuries, they can lead to serious injuries that require time off work. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slips and falls are the primary cause of lost days from work.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that floors and flooring materials may contribute to falls. In the winter, this could be true as well. For example, if you are walking into your office and there are no rugs to absorb water from rain, snow and ice, then the flooring may be slick. If there isn’t enough friction to prevent a fall, then you could end up falling and getting hurt.
This is why it’s important for workplaces to take the colder weather seriously, even if the majority of workers don’t work outside. If a worker is hurt on a property while coming into work or on their way out the door, then there is an opportunity for them to seek workers’ compensation or to make a premises liability claim, depending on if they are on the clock or working at the time of the accident.
How can employers help prevent slip-and-fall accidents in the winter?
To prevent slip-and-fall accidents, employers can do a few things. First, they should always clear walkways of ice and snow. They should use salt or other treatments to prevent ice from forming on stairs or walkways outside the building. The same should be done in parking lots or outdoor spaces where workers may be.
Inside, rugs and absorbent carpets may add texture while absorbing away water, reducing the chances of a fall.
If workers will be outside, they should have personal protective equipment that is right for the conditions. This might include boots with heavy tread or spikes.
Taking these steps can help make the workplace safer for workers and others, which will help prevent an employer from facing lawsuits.