Someone removing ice from a sidewalk

Season's Big Chills Make Slip Prevention a Must

Preventing slips, trips, and falls in wintertime is a major concern in some parts of the United States. The liability is worrisome for employers and homeowners alike. Zurich, a property and casualty insurance provider, recently offered advice to business owners and managers on how to prevent conditions that contribute to customers' and employees' slips, trips, and falls during this season. Data from Zurich's Claims unit indicates these increase substantially during January, February, and March.

Zurich Risk Engineering offered information in four categories:

Snow and ice cleanup and control

  • Stock up early on salt, sand, or ice melt.
  • Purchase entry walk-off mats that are not so thick that they block the swing of entry doors.
  • Extend mats 8 to 12 feet into the entrance to allow for the removal of moisture from shoes. A rule of the thumb is to have the mat long enough so that each foot steps on the mat three times.
  • Institute frequent floor surface monitoring by designated staff throughout a weather event.
  • Have dry mops and wet floor signs readily available.

Common winter weather practices

  • Consider closing side entrances if you lack the resources for frequent inspection and maintenance.
  • Post an employee at entrances during peak hours to encourage wiping feet on mats. You can also post a sign to get attention.
  • Inspect handrails to ensure they meet minimum strength and positioning requirements. Consider installing more handrails to aid in winter safety.
  • Inspect awnings, gutters, roofs, and downspouts for repair or replacement. A dripping gutter over an entryway can lead to ice buildup.
  • Be sure walkways are clear before releasing staff early from work during storms.
  • Use calcium chloride instead of rock salt. It works better at low temperatures and is less damaging to concrete and landscaping.

Review/implement snow removal contracts/system

  • Ensure duties are clearly defined for your staff and for any snow removal contractors you use.
  • Ensure your contract specifies how often salting/snow removal is to be performed.

Designate an inclement weather team

  • Encourage members to monitor weather reports to help prepare the workplace.
  • Increase awareness by posting daily weather briefings.
  • Distribute sand, salt, or ice melt before employees are scheduled to arrive.

"Business owners should also consider who walks onto their property," said Regina McMichael, a Certified Safety Professional and "defying gravity" project manager for Zurich Services Corporation's Risk Engineering unit. "They should implement additional slips, trips, and falls prevention techniques if their business caters to children, the elderly, or patrons wearing dress shoes. Zurich works with its customers to identify risks specific to their business and will help them develop a plan specialized to their business needs."

For more information about slip and fall prevention for businesses, visit this site.

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