Less daylight, wet and slippery leaves, frost, ice and snow – there are many reasons why slip, trips and falls increase dramatically during the winter months with around 3000 people admitted to hospital each year with injuries.
To reduce the risk, there are a number of effective actions that you can take to prevent falls for others and yourself.
Advice for businesses
Keep the perimeter of your business well-lit
During winter, daylight hours are scarce, meaning that workers are more likely to slip on ice and slippery surfaces where outdoor lighting is not available. To mitigate the risk of slips, trips and falls, identify the most common routes that workers use when entering and exiting your business and ensure that all appropriate routes are well-lit.
Keep pathways free from debris
High winds and rain are common during winter, causing fallen wet leaves to build up on pathways and create slippery conditions. It’s important to regularly remove leaves from building up on pathways – whilst wet leaves are a hazard by themselves, they can also hide other hazards underneath such as ice.
By not clearing pathways, workers and guests may decide to walk on the grass or patches of dirt to avoid falling. However, during wintery conditions, grass and dirt can cause footwear to be more wet and slippery which can lead to an accident, most likely at the entrance of the building. To mitigate this risk, you should always ensure that all pathways are clear, and dedicated absorbent mats are present.
Managing ice, frost and snow
The most common factor in slips, trips and falls is the build-up of ice, frost and snow. To reduce the risk, you must put a system in place to actively monitor the risk with a plan to reduce it once it’s present.
The first step in your plan should involve identifying all outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice, such as building entrances, car parks, walkways, shortcuts, smoking areas, bike stands, sloped areas and areas usually affected by excess water or rain.
After this, you must actively monitor the weather and temperature and take action whenever freezing temperatures are forecast. By regularly gritting icy-prone areas, you can reduce the risk of accidents occurring. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends gritting in the early evening before frost settles, or early in the morning before employees arrive.
Did you know that technology can help support individuals who have been involved in an accident caused by slips, trips and falls? Technology that has built in sensors can allow falls to automatically be detected to summon help automatically in the event that a person is seriously injured or unconscious.
At Safe Shores Monitoring, we have fall and mobility detection sensors built into our Chaperone Device and Companion App to help support lone workers if impacted by falls. When a lone worker slips, trips or falls, their dedicated app or device will automatically send an alert to their manager or our 24-hour Alarm Receiving Centre to make sure they are responsive. If no response is received, emergency services can be called to ensure that person is ok.
Advice for Individuals
Whilst working in wintery conditions, it’s important to take precautions for yourself to ensure your safety. Here are our top tips:
Selecting proper footwear
When wet leaves, frost, ice and snow is present, it’s important to wear footwear with proper traction. Boots or slip-resistant shoes, with rubber or neoprene soles are essential for these conditions. Wearing ice cleats, or traction cleats, can also add extra protection against ice areas. However, it’s important to remember that footwear can’t be the only thing that prevents you from slipping.
It may seem obvious, but ensuring that you walk consciously and alert is the most important thing you can do, especially when you can’t see the ice. Avoid the temptation to run to catch a bus or beat traffic when crossing the road.
When walking, always walk with caution – keep your arms balanced with your hands out of your pockets and avoid carrying heavy objects that may affect your balance. If you find yourself walking on ice, take small, shuffling steps, and try your best to grab onto something close by such as a handrail.
Be mindful of where you park
One last thing you should consider during wet and icy conditions is where you park your car. It’s important to always park closest to the entrance in a well-lit area near a well-gritted pathway. Parking on ground floors, away from stairs and hills is also recommended.
Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. This article is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. For legal advice, you should seek independent advice .
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