Preventing Cold Weather Slip & Fall Injuries

WRITTEN BY GARY SMITH, APARTMENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURED FUND

Slips and falls are among the most common hazards in the property management business, especially during colder weather.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysis conducted using 2014 data, Michigan ranked #3 in the nation (behind #1 New York and #2 Pennsylvania) in the number of lost time, slip and fall injuries resulting from snow and ice. Additionally, the National Floor Safety Institute (www.nfsi.org) reports the following facts:

  • Annually, slips and falls account for over 1 million hospital emergency room visits.
  • Slips and falls do not constitute a primary cause of fatal occupational injuries, but represent the primary cause of lost days from work.
  • Fractures rank as the most serious consequences of falls and occur in 5 percent of all people who fall.

No matter how often snow and ice is removed from walking surfaces, you will still likely encounter slippery surfaces this winter. Walking to and from parking lots, on sidewalks and between buildings during the winter months requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. Often, we forget how dangerous slipping and falling can be for our health.

Use the following suggestions to help stay slip-and-fall-free this winter.

  • Don’t get caught by surprise. Monitor the weather and changing conditions.
  • Contract with a snow removal company to help keep parking lots clear of snow and ice.
  • Keep adequate supplies of snow and ice removal tools in accessible areas. Assign responsibilities and review the plan for using these tools.
  • Shovel and apply ice melt as necessary to keep walking areas clean and dry.
  • Watch for areas where ice tends to form. Remove ice accumulations promptly and apply additional ice melt to prevent buildup during freeze-thaw cycles.
  • Beware of black ice—a thin, nearly invisible coating of ice caused when temperatures rise above freezing and quickly drop below freezing.
  • Provide good lighting and clear path markings in parking lots and walkways.
  • Clearly identify steps, ramps and other elevation changes that might not be visible in snowy conditions.
  • Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas will greatly increase the chances of injury.
  • Look ahead when walking; a snow or ice-covered sidewalk may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
  • Do the “penguin shuffle.” Walking like a penguin can reduce your chances of slipping and falling. Here’s how:
    – Point your feet out.
    – Keep your head up.
    – Slowly take short steps or shuffle
    – Extend your arms out to your sides for balance and walk flatfooted.
  • Wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice. Avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels.
  • Consider foot traction products such as Yaktrax® that may be worn over existing shoes or boots. These products have helped athletes, construction crews, public service workers, soldiers, outdoorsmen, and many more walk, run and work on packed snow and ice.
  • Place high quality, beveled edge mats in walking areas subject to water or snow accumulation. Change mats regularly to ensure those in place are dry.
  • Apply a slip-resistant floor treatment in areas that tend to become wet and slippery. Clean and maintain these floors according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Use vehicles for support when getting in and out from a parking location.
  • Get help with carrying packages that are large or heavy so as not to affect balance and obstruct view
  • Lastly, in the event you start falling, try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine; relax your muscles and fall onto your side.

Should you require additional assistance with preventing cold weather slips and falls in your workplace, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or gary.smith@yorkrsg.com.

Resources:

  1. National Floor Safety Institute Slip & Fall Facts: https://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/
  2. OSHA Winter Weather Resources: https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/
  3. Yaktrax® FAQ: https://www.yaktrax.com/faq

 

This entry was posted in 2017, DECEMBER 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

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