Slip, trip and fall hazards are present 12 months of the year, but the stakes go up during the winter months, when ice forms on walkways, ladders and work platforms.
Slips occur when there is insufficient friction between your feet (with or without shoes) and walking surfaces. Some contributors to slips include weather hazards such as snow and ice or rain; inappropriate footwear, such as shoes with worn out soles; and moving from a dry surface to a wet surface.
Here are some tips to pass on to your workers to reduce the likelihood of winter slips, trips and falls, from the Workers’ Safety & Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories:
Don’t rush. Take your time.
Take shorter strides and point your feet slightly outwards to improve your balance.
Wear proper-fitting footwear that is appropriate for your work tasks.
When using mats, keep them from moving with pressure-sensitive adhesive.
When walking on ice or snow-covered surfaces, keep one hand free to balance or break a fall. Watch out for ice ruts.
Pay attention and take your time when moving down from equipment or platforms.
Practice good housekeeping. For example, clean up snow near doorways before it melts and creates a slipping hazard.
It’s also important for workers to exercise extra caution when carrying objects across slippery surfaces, because of the possibility of losing their balance. They should not make abrupt turns and should ask for help when carrying heavy or bulky items across snowy/icy surfaces.
Winter slip hazards can exist even in areas that do not usually experience snowfall. For example, leaves on the ground can also create slipping hazards. Workplace walkways should be kept clear of leaves and workers should be discouraged from taking shortcuts across areas where leaves may fall and accumulate.
Encourage your workers to report slippery walkways or platforms so that they can be salted before someone slips and falls.