It’s never acceptable to turn a blind eye to health and safety in the workplace. Nevertheless, the winter months call for even more diligence and awareness than other times of year, given the way in which the likelihood of slips and falls grows as the weather deteriorates.
Official government estimates state that around 20% of all workplace compensation claims are associated with simply slips and falls, which result in more than 300,000 accidents per year and an astonishing 1,500 deaths. When the snow and ice return, the importance of looking after both your own workforce and anyone visiting your premises cannot be overstated.
So with this in mind, what follows is a brief overview of just a few of the most important tips and guidelines for minimising the likelihood of accidents during the winter months:
- Be sure to stock up ahead of time on the supplies and tools you’ll be needing during the winter. From ice and snow removal tools to salt and so on, try to avoid leaving things until the last minute as you may be caught off guard.
- Make sure that one or more people are assigned to the job of checking for snow, ice, frost and slippery surfaces in general on a daily basis. Such checks may need to be carried out and any problems addressed several times each day.
- If necessary and appropriate, install barriers or bollards to ensure that workers, visitors and customers remain on safe, designated walkways at all times. Try to limit access to any areas that are clearly more prone to snow and ice build-up than others.
- Consider investing in rubber walkways or other temporary covers that can be used on paths, steps and anywhere else that is likely to be affected by snow and ice.
- Pay particularly close attention to steps, as even the slightest ice build-up may have the potential to cause horrific accidents.
- Display prominent warning signs that cannot be missed, warning those in the vicinity of the heightened risk of slips, trips and falls. Warn against running and state that where available, handrails should be used at all times.
- Ensure that all employees who may at any time be working in areas that become slippery are wearing the appropriate footwear to do so. It is the responsibility of the business to provide any safety clothing and accessories that may be needed, for any employees working in potentially hazardous conditions.
- Keep a close eye on the protective mats positioned inside and outside the building, in order to ensure that they are in a good state of repair. If not, replace them immediately.
- Ensure one or more members of the workforce are assigned to the job of keeping entrances and hallways safe, by watching for building of water brought in from the outside that could make the floor slippery and dangerous. All such wetness should be dealt with on an on-going basis as and when required.
- If in any doubt, speak to the professionals and create a winter safety checklist to be used daily.