Winter is just around the corner. Now is a good time to proactively manage your winter slips-and-fall risks by planning ahead, identifying the risks and engineering controls.
Simple slip-and-fall injuries due to snow and ice can have significant impact on an injured employee as well as your bottom line. Preventing these mishaps should be a priority.
Falls Are a Leading Cause of Injury
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, keeps yearly statistics on injuries. The most recent data indicates that unintentional falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury.
In large businesses, it’s a particular concern, because pedestrian traffic tends to be frequent and rushed. Cold conditions tend to make people move even faster. And naturally, the busier your workplace, the more often these injuries are likely to occur.
CDC statistics indicate that the medical cost for winter slips-and-fall injuries top out at $50 billion every year, with hospital costs amounting to two thirds of the total. Adding in the costs for medication, physical therapy, and durable medical equipment, and it’s easy to see why just one slip-and-fall injury can be a significant financial burden on the injured person as well as the district.
An organization’s liability or workers’ compensation insurance will cover a good portion of the costs, but the claim for a single incident may be much higher than you’d expect. A Snow and Ice Management Association study indicates that the average claim for a snow- or ice-related slip-and-fall injury is $36,000. A worker’s compensation claim for the same injury averages $48,000.
In addition to the costs of claims, companies need to consider the economic impact caused by business disruption and the cost of hiring replacement workers along with decreased employee morale and the negative effects on an organization’s safety culture.
How to Prevent Slips and Falls
Start by generating awareness among your employees of the risks that come with inclement weather. Encourage your employees to be proactive in staying on their feet this winter season and avoiding slipping and falling. Point out the obvious. Tell employees to:
- Wear slip-resistant shoes
- Slow your pace. Don’t rush
- Take shorter more deliberate steps
- Watch where you’re going. Pay attention.
- Be aware of slippery floors due to snow and slush being tracked into the building
- Don’t carry more than you can handle. Don’t impair your line of sight
- Avoid distractions when walking, like cell phones
Be proactive. Look at the weather and anticipate snow and ice. Send out a warning to all employees on upcoming inclement weather, and have snow removal plan in place beforehand. Use a snow and ice removal log to track it so that you’re sure your sidewalks and parking lots are well maintained.
For specific questions about preparing your workplace for winter weather, contact your local Marsh & McLennan safety representative.