Winter is one of the best times of the year to enjoy the snow and cold weather. Winter also brings the increased dangers of slips and falls to business owners due to the snow, ice and sleet. Are you prepared? Do you have a snow removal plan in place or winter hazard training for your employees? How clean should the sidewalks or parking lots be? Below we have created a list of best practices for controlling wintertime slip and fall hazards from our trusted insurance carriers:
1. Have a snow removal plan. Make sure snow is removed in areas of high priority such as main entrances, walkways, primary sidewalks and parking lots. Remember to remove snow from fire lanes and hydrants as well as secondary parking lots and other low-use areas. Having a snow removal plan helps provide safety for pedestrians, drivers, and employees and protects your business property and landscape.
2. Utilize Stagger Parking. Stagger parking to allow for better clearing of snow with no snow accumulations between cars.
3. Other Focus Areas. Don’t forget to clear snow from dumpsters, smoking areas, entrances, and short-cuts. It is best to designate who will be responsible for the upkeep of these areas.
4. How clean is clean enough? Any visible amount of snow, slush or ice is a hazard. If you or your contractor cannot get the surface that clean- there is a problem. Surfaces should be cleared to the bare pavement. Snow should be removed 30 minutes prior to the start of the shift or shift change. Also, mid-afternoon prior to drop in temperature.
5. Wintertime Prevention and Training. Provide all-staff training regarding personal safety during winter. Staff should be educated to use designated walkways during weather events. Training on winter slip/fall prevention is essential.
6. Sidewalks Near Curbs. Ensure that someone is responsible to address any changes in elevation, such as curbing, which can present tripping hazards if hidden in snow accumulation.
7. Prepare Equipment. Equipment should be adequate for the job and in good working condition. Salt and shovels should be placed at every employee entrance. Ensure operators are trained. Review manufacturer’s recommendations on equipment. Provide proper training for shoveling snow if done manually in designated areas where a snow equipment cannot be used.
8. Contractor- Snow Removal Vendor. Make sure to obtain or provide a written contract signed by both parties. The contract should be specific. Have a snow removal map to show priority areas and where snow is to be piled. Do not hesitate to discuss your expectations with your contactor and develop an accountability plan with them to deal with staffing issues and poor workmanship.
9. Walk-Off Mats. The entry of snow or ice into the building is important to prevent slips and falls from occurring indoors. Keep matting clean and dry. Be mindful what type and length of mat should be used in which areas. Provide back up mats and change out frequently when weather conditions worsen.
10. Signage. Hazard signage such as “Slippery When Wet”, or “Caution: Wet Floors” should only be used when floors ARE WET. It is not an excuse wait to fix the situation when convenient. Store hazard signage in easy to access places that are close to high-risk areas.
Wintertime slip and fall hazards have a huge impact on businesses from lost productivity to increased workers’ compensation costs, and more. Businesses can certainly prevent wintertime hazards from occurring by preparing their employees and the workplace early for the winter season.
Contact Paroubek Insurance today to discuss the right coverages and loss control strategies unique to your business to keep you and your employees safe throughout this winter season.