Frigid weather and sloppy precipitation are enough to send even the calmest person racing to find shelter. Combine the climate with busy schedules and you have a recipe for danger during the slippery season.
“Even shiny, clean floors can become as slick as ice when moisture and grime are tracked in by employees and customers,” Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, MD, medical director of Loyola University Health System Occupational Health Services, stated in a press release. “During the winter months, remember to caution employees and business visitors about weather-related slip and trip hazards. Falls are the most common reason people seek help at U.S. immediate-care facilities and emergency departments, with [more than] 8.5 million visits in 2008. More significantly, falls can lead to serious trauma.”
Winter weather’s effects can creep inside unexpectedly. Here are a few tips:
- · Raise awareness. Alert employees to hazardous areas where falls are more likely to occur. These include foyers and lobbies or places where flooring surfaces change, such as at doorways, curbs, stairways, elevators, parking ramps and other high “people movement” paths;
- · Use signage. Caution signs in bright colors can warn employees and customers about spots that may be slippery;
- · Plan ahead. Have a plan in place and make sure that all employees know how to respond should a fall occur. Priority should be placed on identifying first responders who can assist a fall victim. Training should also include how to redirect employees or customers passage and traffic when first aid or emergency care is underway.
- · Before acting to help a fall victim stand, take a moment to assess the situation. If the employee or customer who has fallen asks for assistance, be sure your footing is secure as you give aid. Sometimes acute injuries are not immediately apparent.
- · Control access. A winter storm arriving immediately before an operation opens for the day is a threat. Ideally a company’s outdoor and public access spaces will always be well-shoveled and salted. However, if specific walkways or parking lots are unmanageable, consider closing off access and redirecting people toward safer locations.
“A fall can cause more than a simple fracture. These common events can result in serious internal injury. Falls disrupt daily routines and complicate business operations,” Capelli-Schellpfeffer stated. “Fall avoidance keeps people safe and saves employers’ reputation with customers. Prevention is really the best medicine to keep employees, customers and businesses healthy.”