As the calendar year comes to a close and outdoor temperatures begin to drop, the winter season introduces a unique set of hazards. Winter weather, including freezing temperatures, ice, and snow, presents the potential for slips, trips, and falls in many industries. Businessowners that are proactive in managing winter weather hazards are more likely to prevent worker and customer injuries.
Where do winter weather hazards exist?
Depending on a business’s local climate, freezing temperatures can lead to ice and snow accumulation in parking lots, sidewalks, building entryways, and other walking surfaces.
Who is at risk for injury or illness?
Any individual on the premises where ice and snow exist are at an increased risk for injuries due to slips, trips, and falls. This includes employers, employees, customers, vendors, etc.
How can hazards be managed?
- Clear ice and snow in parking lots and on sidewalks regularly,
- Obtain a service contract from a professional snow removal company to ensure regular service when ice and snow are present. Where employees are used to perform snow removal duties ensure proper footwear, warm clothing and reflective PPE are worn,
- Apply anti-slip materials, such as salt and sand, to frozen ground to increase traction when walking on the affected surface
- Provide mats and rugs at interior entryways and frequently used walking paths
- Ensure that mats and rugs lay flat on the ground so they do not present a tripping hazard
- Monitor the floors for spills or the accumulation of melted ice/snow and clean up as needed
- Use wet floor signage to alert patrons of potentially slick areas
- Make sure that all areas accessed by workers or customers are well-lit
- Maintain good housekeeping practices so floors remain free from clutter and debris
- Require that employees wear the appropriate footwear to work, such as slip-resistant shoes
- Train employees on identifying slip, trip, or fall hazards and regularly communicate injury prevention strategies
- All areas including walkways, parking areas, exterior stairways, trailer entrances, portable washroom areas and delivery/unloading areas should be cleared and salted/sanded after each snowfall,
- A good supply of sand/salt or other ice Melter material should be kept on hand, as well as additional shovels and brooms,
- Site supervisors should remind workers, visitors, guests, trades of winter hazards on a regular basis and include it in the weekly toolbox talk,
- A clear policy regarding site/office closures due to inclement weather should be communicated to all staff,
- For winter months, snow clearing activities should be included in the JOHSC inspection process,
- Try to have designated parking close to entry points to reduce walking distance and eliminate slip hazards,
How can individuals reduce their risk of injury in winter weather?
- Observe your surroundings and be aware of slick walking surfaces
- Take deliberate, short steps or shuffle your feet
- Wear proper footwear for the weather conditions
- Minimize the number of items you carry when walking on ice or snow
- Hold on to railings when using stairs or ramps
- Avoid looking at your cell phone and keep focused on walking safely