Foul Weather Fall Prevention

Bad weather brings up a host of factors that increase the odds of slips, trips and falls

Foul Weather Fall Prevention

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One of the hazards of colder months and wintry weather is the increased chance of slip-and-fall incidents. Rain, sleet, ice and snow can make walking and working surfaces extremely slippery. It can also make outdoor stationary ladders, scaffolding, tanks, stairways and other areas hazardous. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 workplace injuries are caused by snow and ice every year. Many of these injuries can be severe enough to require weeks to months off from work. Regardless of the season or the weather slip, trip and fall injuries can be severe. 

Besides the injury in and of itself, there are other complications that can come from a fall. For starters, there’s the employee’s lost productivity and possible overtime costs to make up for that lost productivity. Workers compensation insurance can increase as well due to lost workdays. And what are the costs if multiple employees suffer a fall due to slippery conditions brought on by winter weather? Then there are costs to the employee or employees and their families that often get overlooked.

Besides slippery conditions, there are some other factors that can increase the odds of a slip or fall. Depending on the employee’s age, their flexibility and stability could make things worse. If an employee is working in snowy, rainy or even foggy conditions, poor visibility could become an issue. Wintertime is also cold and flu season so some employees might be taking medications that can cause drowsiness or dizziness, compounding the risk. 

Typical injuries from falls of this nature are usually related to the wrists and hands, back, hip and shoulders. Head injuries and concussions aren’t uncommon either. 

When the weather gets bad in some areas, it might be bad for weeks or months, employers can help the situation by making sure that snow and ice are cleared as soon as possible. Placing good, slip-resistant mats immediately inside doors can help reduce the slip hazards once employees are inside. The following are some tips to follow to avoid those nasty falls due to bad weather. 

  • Wear the proper footwear for the conditions.
  • Pay attention when you are walking — don’t let distractions become a hazard.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, know what type of surface you are walking on and step carefully. 
  • Avoid icy patches, especially on pavement.
  • Use a slower and wider pace when walking. 
  • Keep your hands free instead of in your pockets if possible.
  • Use handrails when going up and down stairways. 

Dress to stay warm, in layers, because the cold can make joints and muscles stiffen which increases the likelihood of a slip.

If you do happen to fall, take your time getting up. Moving too quickly can cause another fall. And take a moment to make sure you’re not severely injured. Once you know you’re OK, get up slowly using your knees and hands to brace yourself. Lastly, notify your employer or supervisor that you fell. This will give them the opportunity to correct the fall hazards and make sure you are truly OK. 

Bad weather increases the chances of slipping, tripping and falling. But if you stay alert and move cautiously, you’ll get through the weather unscathed.


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