Good Housekeeping — Preventing Slip and Fall Injuries this Winter and Beyond
Slip, trip and fall accidents are a leading cause of injury across many industry segments including health care, manufacturing, trucking and general office environments. Good housekeeping practices, routine facility inspections and preventative maintenance programs are all effective ways of preventing these injuries and lowering the cost of workers’ compensation insurance, especially during the winter months.
Facility, janitorial and maintenance staff play a key role in keeping parking lots, sidewalks and interior walking surfaces clean and well-maintained. Management should routinely meet with these employees to review current work practices and procedures. There should also be open discussions regarding potential slip and fall exposures in the workplace and how facility inspections, preventative maintenance programs and housekeeping practices can be fine tuned to focus on winter-related exposures.
Inspections and snow removal procedures should be in place in an effort to prevent fall injuries for employees and visitors.
- Parking lots, sidewalks and outdoor steps need to have any snow accumulation removed in a timely manner and have salt or other surface treatments applied to melt icy spots.
- Extreme winter environmental factors can be harsh on blacktop and concrete surfaces so ongoing inspections need to be performed to identify potholes and cracks that may have formed.
- Temporary barricades and safety cones should mark unsafe areas until appropriate repairs can be made.
- Preventative maintenance programs and safety inspection checklists should be used and should include areas where there has been a history of slip and fall incidents.
- Lighting systems covering parking lots and sidewalks should be checked to verify they are working properly and identify any electrical ballast systems that need repair. Deficient lighting makes it more difficult for employees to see patches of snow and ice.
- Entrance steps and handrails need to be continuously inspected for damage.
- Slabs of sidewalk concrete can be lifted by trapped water freezing that creates a lip between the sections. These sections may need to be ground down with specialized machinery to create a smooth transition area.
- Drain pipes, grate covers and catch basins may become clogged with debris or ice dams, causing water from melting snow and ice to back up onto walking surfaces and refreeze.
Interior walking surfaces, such as entrances, foyers, reception areas, hallways, and stairwells, are all areas where serious slip and fall injuries have occurred, and special attention should be paid to housekeeping in these areas.
- The occurrence of these injuries mainly takes place during the winter when employees and visitors track snow, ice and water throughout hallways, stairwells and other interior areas.
- These surfaces can quickly accumulate snow, water and excess salting materials, which need to be cleaned often.
- Heavy foot traffic causes entrance mats to roll up and become a major trip hazard.
- Floor mats also become saturated with snow and water and may require replacement during the day. Extra mats should be kept on hand and changed out as needed.
Tools to Put into Place
Written schedules, housekeeping checklists, maintenance procedures and other standard forms are all effective ways to monitor hazardous areas. Computer software applications are available for large facilities or customized checklists can be created easily by your own staff. Use your safety teams, wellness committees and facility personnel to develop your own materials to identify the specific areas to place on a housekeeping checklist.
Our Good Housekeeping Guidebook will help keep your workplace safe by providing important information on best housekeeping practices. Accident Fund policyholders can log into our website to access this guidebook as well as a variety of additional safety tools and tips.