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Common Winter Slip-and-fall Hazards And How To Avoid Them

December 22, 2020

Common Winter Slip-and-fall Hazards And How To Avoid Them

For most people, winter is one of the best times of the year. With winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowball fights, there’s always a reason to be jolly for the season. Moreover, the winter landscape is just beautiful to look at.

However, wintertime isn’t always fun and games. Unpredictable weather patterns bring forth sudden rain and snowfall and the subzero temperatures can cause debilitating effects on vehicles and the human body.

Furthermore, snow and ice can cause surfaces to become quite slippery. As a result, a substantial amount of accidents and injuries happen, including the most common ones: slips, trips, and falls. In worse cases, they can even result in fatalities.

Injury prevention should be a top priority for the winter. To curb such incidents, it’s crucial to identify the causes of slips, trips, and falls and how to avoid them.

What Are the Common Slip, Trips and Fall Hazards During the Winter?

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) over 42,000 workers get injured annually due to fall incidents. During the winter, the risk of these accidents is further amplified as a combination of snow, ice and other factors bring about certain hazards in the workplace, public areas, and the home.

Here are the common winter hazards to look out for:

  • Wet or slippery floors and surfaces
  • Poor outdoor visibility due to rain, fog, or snowfall
  • Uneven walking surfaces that are hidden by snow.
  • Loose flooring, carpeting or mats
  • Damaged or irregular steps with no handrails
  • Sloped, icy walking surfaces
  • Liquid spills on floors
  • Wet or muddy soles on shoes
  • Ramps and gang planks without skid-resistant surfaces
  • Wet leaves or pine needles
  • Poor lighting

What Are the Risk Factors That Contribute to Winter-Related Injuries?

Winter hazards aren’t the only things that cause people injuries. There are other physical and mental factors that can contribute to slips, trips and falls:

  • A person’s age
  • Injuries previously suffered from slipping on ice
  • Poor vision
  • Chronic conditions
  • Use of multiple medications
  • A person’s anxiety or fear of falling, tripping and slipping.

How to Prevent Falls and Slip and Trip Accidents

There are several levels of prevention involved, but they will ensure that you can keep yourself, your coworkers, and your family safe from these injuries.

  • Develop Good Housekeeping Practices

Remove ice and snow whenever possible

Safety and good housekeeping go hand in hand. By keeping your home or work facilities clean and well-organized, you can reduce risks that can contribute to a person tripping or falling such as tiny objects scattered on the floors or layers of dust getting on the eyes.

To establish an effective housekeeping program, here are steps you should follow:

    • Plan things ahead. Identify which areas need to be cleaned and organized and when to do them.
    • Assign housekeeping responsibilities to workers or family members.
    • Establish housekeeping procedures and make them a part of your daily routine.
  • Remove Snow and Ice From Places With High Foot Traffic

Places such as outdoor walkways, sidewalks, and stairs are susceptible to snow build up. What’s worse is, these areas have a high degree of foot traffic, so the chances of people slipping on the ice-covered surface are extremely high.

To reduce the risk of injuries, these preventive measures must be done:

    • Use warning signs to inform people of areas with slippery surfaces.
    • Ice and snow must be shovelled away from walkways as soon as possible.
    • Rock salt or other de-icers must be sprinkled on sidewalks, parking lots, and stairways regularly.
    • Place grip mats inside entryways.
  • Wear Winter Slip-Resistant Footwear

Walking on snow-covered streets is quite a dangerous endeavour for most people. This is because surfaces covered in ice become slippery and normal footwear wouldn’t be able to maintain its grip when coming into contact with the ice-covered surface. Once your shoes lose traction, you can end up slipping and inuring yourself.

Wearing winter boots is the best solution. Compared to normal footwear, the outsoles on these shoes have tread patterns designed to provide traction on snow and ice-covered surfaces.

Furthermore, winter boots offer much more than just grip. They have other safety features that help protect your feet during the winter:

    • Winter boots are insulated, so they keep your feet warm during cold conditions
    • The tough outer layer protects your feet from abrasion, cuts, impact damage from objects hidden by snow.
  • Never Walk Outside With Your Hands in Your Pockets

Keeping your hands in your pockets while walking allows you to keep your hands warm. However, best fall prevention practices dictate that you should avoid doing this. By keeping your hands outside of your pockets, you will be able to use them to brace yourself or break your fall just in case you accidentally slip on a wet or frozen surface.

If you need to keep your hands warm, a more effective method would be to wear winter gloves.

  • Increase Visibility by Installing Proper Lighting and Carrying a Flash Light

Keep your visibility up

One of the leading causes of a fall injury is poor lighting. During the winter evenings, visibility is further hindered by constant rain and snowfall so it’s easy to miss cracks in the pavement, potholes, and raised objects.

It is recommended to avoid going out at night, especially if it’s snowing. However, if going out is absolutely necessary, be sure to stick to well-lit areas and carry a flashlight with a strong illumination.

For dim and dark areas around workplaces and the home, make sure to install proper lighting to increase visibility.

  • Walk With Caution

It’s quite difficult to determine if the surface you are walking on is slippery or not. The best thing you can do is to walk with caution and test surfaces. Never run or walk quickly on snow-covered walkways.

  • Be on the Look Out for Liquid Spills and Have Them Cleaned Immediately

Liquid spills around the house and the work area can cause floors to become slippery. Much more so during the wintertime, since liquids have the tendency to solidify due to the subzero temperatures.

Whenever possible, be on the lookout for liquid spills while walking around. If you happen to see some in your property, clean it up right away.

  • Use the Handrails

Use handrails whenever possible

When going up inclined slopes or steps, always grab the handrails. This will ensure that you have something to hold on to just in case you slip.

  • Avoid Carrying Heavy Objects in Snow-Covered Areas

As much as possible, avoid carrying heavy objects or cargo in areas with snow-covered surfaces. Doing so is quite dangerous. There’s a high chance of you slipping and getting crushed by the load you are carrying.

If it’s a necessary task, clear the path of snow or ice to greatly reduce the risk of you slipping.

Do not take your and others’ safety for granted during the winter. By identifying common slip and fall hazards, you will be able to take preventive measures to reduce the likely hood of accidents happening.

However, if in spite of all the precautionary measures you’ve taken, you end up injured in a slip-and-fall accident, call Michelle Linka Law. We offer you assistance in filing your accident benefit claims so you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (416) 477-7288.

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