Snow and Ice Create Slip Hazards That Shouldn't Be Taken Lightly

[tweetmeme]I am in Terre Haute, Indiana this week doing some health and safety consulting for a client, and the weather is dreadful.  Blowing snow, temperatures in the 20’s and ice and snow-covered ground everywhere.  I am not writing this to complain, but rather I want to remind every one of the dangers of slips, trips and falls in inclement weather.  I thought of this earlier today as I was walking outside from one building to another one, and my hands were getting cold (yes, I forgot my gloves) so instinctively I stuck them in my pockets….and then it happened, I came within a cat’s whisker of eating it!  I slipped but was able to catch myself.  All I could think was, I am supposed to be a safety professional and here I am walking on a slippery surface with my hands stuck in my pockets!  I need those hands out and free of hindrances for balance.  Dang it, I know better.  But it is easy to forget momentarily, and then WHAM.

So now safely tucked in my hotel room, I did a little research and want to share with you some basic facts about slips, trips and fall from OSHA:

  • Each year, some 21,000 Americans die as a result of falls.  That’s more than from electrocution, drowning, and firearms incidents combined.
  • Falls carry an astronomical price tag of between $60 billion and $80 billion each year.  That includes litigation, insurance and comp claims, medical costs, and other indirect costs.
  • Falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, with more than 2 million Americans entering the ER each year as a result.
  • Every hour, falls are responsible for one death and 183 emergency room visits.
  • There’s nothing new about the prevalence of workplace falls. As far back as 1937, National Safety Council records reveal that falls caused more lost time than any other class of compensable occupational accidents.

That’s staggering is terms of the costs to the nations in terms of economic activity and more importantly to the person who suffered the injury.  There are some basic, and easy to follow remedies to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a slip, trip, of fall, as follows:

  • Identifying conditions and equipment that could lead to slip, trip, and fall incidents and implementing practices to address them
  • Posting warning signs
  • Making spill cleanup easy for employees (keep clean up supplies handy)
  • Requiring employees to wear slip-resistant shoes in high-risk areas
  • A winter weather initiative to alert employees to seasonal hazards and keep outdoor walkways safe

Be safe this winter season, and remember these tips don’t go away when the snow does!

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