If only winter fairy godmothers existed in real life, we could ask for this protective bubble around every worker so that they’d forever be spared the doom of slipping on slippery surfaces. Okay, maybe not forever but only in winter when walkways and steps are more slippery and they’re more than what our regular shoes can handle.
Unfortunately for us poor mortals, the workplace is no room for fairy tales. Employers can do nothing but be the fairy godmothers of themselves and their own employees. By carefully planning the steps to improve snow safety, they can prevent slips and falls during the most slippery time of the year.
If you happen to be an employer or a safety coordinator, you better check out these eight tips that will keep workers safe from winter slips and falls at your workplace:
1.CREATE YOUR WINTER DREAM TEAM.
There is no need to draft basketball players this season.This is not about space jam, alien slavers or super cuddly Looney Toon characters.While winter has been around for quite some time now, you might have yet to appoint some employees to monitor the weather conditions in your area. If that is so, it’s never too late. But you better get those “weather people” now or you risk the lives of all your employees.
Bonus Winter Tip: Time to roll your sleeves up and start a brainstorming session with your dream team. With them, you should review your snow removal plan or snow safety plan for the workplace. Encourage them to make improvements on these plans, especially if they were created last year or before that. Whatever you come up with, make sure you provide each worker of the company with a copy of information about these plans and other related updates.
2.GET REGULAR WINTER UPDATES.
Pick one person in your dream team to update a specific officer in the management hierarchy about the latest weather conditions. They should immediately relay storm warnings and weather updates to the officer most especially when the conditions become potentially dangerous.
Bonus Winter Tip: Nobody likes winter storms but you can’t just sulk and whine if it blows your way. Should you get stuck at the work site during a blizzard or another winter storm, here are safety measures you should follow.
3.DON ANTI-SLIP FOOTWEAR!
The trouble with cold feet (literally, that is) is that you can’t be safe just by keeping them warm. It’s all about safeguarding the soles. Kidding aside, with all the snow and ice your workers have to tread on, you’d be crazy if at this time of the year, they have yet their own pair of non-skid shoes, anti-slip overshoes, ice walkers or other anti-slip footwear. Make sure you prioritize the needs of employees who frequently come and go from your work site.
Bonus Winter Tip: We know it’s plain common sense, but there’s no harm in mentioning it: no cowboy boots, sneakers, leather shoes and plastic-soled shoes. You know how some employees can be pretty stubborn so implementation should be monitored strictly.
4.MARK POTENTIALLY “HIGHLY VULNERABLE” AREAS.
You know them so you better mark them now. Determine walkways and other areas that may be covered up with snow or ice. Then, mark these areas with a highly visible pole or a similar marker.
Bonus Winter Tip:Before you busy yourself with installing markers, check outdoor work areas or walkways for low spots and cracks.By repairing these spots or cracks, you can prevent snow and ice from accumulating in these areas.
5.GET HELP FROM FLOOR MATS AND “WET FLOOR” SIGNS.
Caution:Falling is dangerous to your head.
Yes, you already know that. All your employees are aware of this truth that is older than Socrates’s golden nuggets of wisdom. But sometimes it’s just hard to distinguish a slippery floor from a dry one. So make sure you have more than enough floor mats and “Wet Floor” signs.
Such seemingly small things can do a lot to save a life. Just place floor mats at entrances to reduce tracking in of ice and snow.As for “Wet Floor” signs, just place them in areas that may cause slipping or falling.
Bonus Winter Tip:Regularly check mats and immediately replace those that have frayed or have curled-up edges.Stick to non-slip floor mats that have rubber padding.Make sure also to immediately replace or repair loose or damaged flooring to better prevent slips and falls.
6.LET EMPLOYEES DO THEIR OWN SPRINKLING.
There’s nothing like a good dash of salt to season your meals every day.When it comes to icy walkways, though, you’re going to need more than a dash of this seasoning. By placing drums of rock salt near entrances, employees can conveniently take care of outdoor spots covered with ice or snow. Sand works well, too, that is, in providing traction for slippery surfaces, not on your meals though.
Bonus Winter Tip:You may want to substitute potassium-based de-icers for salt as the latter can damage lawns, concrete, carpets and floors that may get some salt debris when workers walk inside.
7.ASK FOR CERTIFICATES
While it’s always sweet to receive free gift certificates, that’s not exactly what I’m referring to. I mean you should ask for certificates of insurance when you hire private contractors to remove snow in your workplace.
Bonus Winter Tip:Check with your community first if you’re allowed to plow snow into the public roadways since some state laws prohibit this activity.If this activity is illegal in your own state, you should remind your private contractor about this restriction.
BREATHING COLD ANTICIPATION
Plan ahead. Plan ahead. Always be very well prepared. Remember that it’s all about anticipation. That’s not to say that you should anticipate the worst. Instead, by anticipating both the simplest and worst slips and falls that could happen to your workers this season, you can best prepare for them. So all I have to say is break a leg or better yet, the best of luck in creating and improving your snow safety plan!