According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 there were 34,860 workplace slip and fall injuries involving ice, sleet or snow that required at least one day away from work to recuperate. At Society Insurance, the number one loss source for both workers compensation and liability claims are slips and falls.
There are important steps both employees and employers can take to mitigate the risks of walking on ice.
Employees: 5 Steps to Avoid Slipping on Ice
A high percentage of these occur in parking lots. Obviously, during the winter months it is not uncommon for there to be snow and ice on parking lots, driveways, sidewalks or other walking surfaces. So, here are a few tips to help you avoid injury when walking on these slippery surfaces.
- Wear boots or slip-resistant shoes. Walk slowly and watch the placement of your feet.
- Watch out for black ice which forms when wet pavement freezes. Black ice appears to just be a wet surface, but in reality is solid ice.
- Use your arms to keep yourself stable and balanced when walking on ice. (Think: walk like a penguin!) Don’t carry a lot of items with you; instead use a backpack if you can.
- Be mindful of where you park and be careful getting out of your car. You may be on top of a patch of ice.
- Use handrails whenever possible and watch the floors as you enter a building. Make sure you clean your feet on rugs or mats as the first few steps inside a building are the most dangerous.
Employers: 3 Steps to Prevent Slipping on Ice at Your Business
As a business or building owner, there are additional steps you should take to prevent your employees and customers from slipping on ice during the winter.
- Have a plan to remove snow and treat ice, either using a contractor or your own employees. Consider the following:
- Plowing, shoveling and salting is scheduled for a time before employees report or the business opens for customers.
- Keep a log of what was done and where; these can be important for defense of a claim.
- If you use a contractor, have a written agreement that defines when they will treat your property.
- Have a designated entrance for employees to use that will also be the first one cleared and salted. On heavy snow days, ask employees to not come in early, so you have time to complete your initial snow removal and salting.
- Identify areas that are subject to a freeze and thaw cycle. Where is there a puddle at noon which could be a sheet of ice at 5:00 p.m.? These areas are hazardous and should be checked and salted more often.
- Take a walk in the rain. Look for areas where downspouts are discharging water onto sidewalks or a common path of travel. Try to redirect this discharge to grassy areas or be sure to target them for extra treatment in winter to prevent slipping on ice.
Remember that prevention is the best way to stop slips and falls during the winter in icy conditions. Be sure to plow/shovel driveways, walkways and sidewalks. Salt high traffic areas if you think ice may form. If areas are especially hazardous, it is always a good idea to place a sign to warn others of the hazardous condition.
Additional Resources to Prevent the Hazards of Slipping on Ice:
- Whitepaper: Safeguarding Your Employees and Customers from Slip and Fall Risks
- Webinar: Reducing Outdoor Slip, Trip and Falls