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January 31, 2008
Beware of Winter's Slippery Surfaces

Slipping and sliding means accidents and injuries. Unless they're ice skating or skiing, you don't want your employees to be slipping and sliding-especially around your workplace. Weather-related slips and falls become a serious hazard as winter conditions often make for wet or icy surfaces outdoors. Even wet leaves or mud can create treacherous walking conditions. Spills and leaks inside can also lead to slips and falls. You want to do everything you can to prevent these accidents-outside and in. Perhaps the best way to go about it is with a little awareness training. Short safety meetings in every department for all employees should get people thinking about slipping hazards--and taking precautions to prevent falls.

Create a slip-free zone inside and out. Inside, remind employees to clean up spills, drips, and leaks immediately (even a little coffee spill on the floor can cause a slip, a fall, and an injury). Make sure maintenance personnel and other employees put up signs or barriers to warn people when floors are wet, slippery, or otherwise hazardous. And be sure somebody is assigned to put down mats on wet days near entryways to help keep floors dry. Outside, see to it that slippery spots are sanded or salted immediately. And encourage employees to wear sensible shoes with nonskid soles on bad weather days. Also remind them to wipe their feet when they come in from outside. Another way to prevent slips is to teach employees to walk slowly, take small steps, and slide their feet on wet or slippery surfaces.

Why It Matters...
  • Falls are among the most common type of injury both on and off the job.
  • Several hundred thousand American workers suffer injuries from falls on the job every year--a number of these related to slipping accidents.
  • Although slips and falls usually aren't fatal, they can cause serious damage, like broken bones and back injuries.
  • A little awareness on the part of employees and some simple emphasis on indoor and outdoor maintenance on the part of management can prevent most, if not all, of slip-related accidents.

Encourage employees to report slippery conditions. You also want to emphasize the need to fix or report hazardous conditions anywhere inside or outside your facility. Make sure employees know how, and to whom, to report any slipping hazards they can't clean up effectively inside. Also, make it easy for them to report any slipping hazards they notice outside on walkways, in parking lots, or anywhere else on your property. That way maintenance can get to the scene quickly and remove the hazard before an employee or visitor to your facility slips and falls. Don't forget that if an employee is injured by a slip and fall, it could mean lost workdays, workers' compensation, and other medical expenses. If a visitor is injured by a slip and fall outside or inside of your facility, it could mean an expensive lawsuit.

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