Winter Safety Tips: Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls

Snow Removal

Winter is coming and with it, the potential for slips, trips, and falls. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), over 42,000 workplace injuries are due to fall accidents. The majority of these, or about 66%, are same level falls due to slips and trips. The inevitable winter ice and snow just makes a more hazardous environment that could increase the risk of injuries.

While Accuweather is predicting a mild winter for some areas, meteorologist for Canada, Brett Anderson, is also predicting a “colder than normal” winter season for the Rocky Mountains and Prairies. Whatever the case maybe, Canadians will have snow and ice to deal with at home and at work.

Prevent slips, trips, and falls this winter season. Keep these safety tips in mind while navigating through the snow and ice:

General Tips for Surviving Winter

  • Make a workplace safety program for the winter – Create an action plan customized for winter hazards. This should contain helpful information for workers on how to prepare for winter conditions around their facility.
  • Keep walkways clear. Remove hazards immediately such as water on floors and stairs, and snow on sidewalks.
  • Mark hazardous areas whenever necessary. Use temporary signs, cones, barricades, or floor stand signs to warn workers passing by.
  • Select footwear with appropriate traction. You may also wear removable ice cleats when walking outdoors. Just remember to remove them indoors.

Snow Removal EquipmentTips for Snow Removal

  • Clear off the heavy snow with a shovel. For best results, use a specialized snow shovel.
  • Sweep off the leftover snow.
  • Apply eco-friendly chemical de-icer or ice melter to keep the ice from forming longer.

Tips for Walking Safely in the Wintertime

  • Wear footwear with heavy treads for increased traction.
  • Make yourself visible to drivers by wearing brightly colored jackets or clothes.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses to enable you to see through the bright snow reflection.
  • Keep your hands out ready to steady yourself in case of slips.
  • Look ahead where you’re going and anticipate obstacles like uneven ground and ice or puddles.
  • Avoid carrying heavy loads that may tip your balance.
  • Test slippery areas by tapping a foot before walking.
  • Walk slowly and in small shuffling steps to prevent slipping.
  • Walk along the grassy edges for maximum traction if the walkway is covered in ice.

Getting through the winter season without suffering a slip, trip or fall is not a difficult feat with the right preparation and presence of mind. Just remember that safety should always be the top priority in every season, all the time.

 

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Fall Prevention Checklist

Fall ProtectionSlips, trips, and falls have been proven to be the leading causes of workplace injuries but they are also the most preventable workplace accidents in almost every industry. The latest statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, released in 2011, puts the number of injured workers due to fall accidents at 42,000. Overall, fall injuries make up about 17% of the total workplace injuries that resulted to “time-loss” at work.

Most of the fall accidents resulting from same level slips and trips account for 66% of the total number of fall accidents, while 34% are falls that occur from a height such as scaffolding, ladders, and rooftops.

Simple steps can be taken to prevent slips and trips. Read our previous blog post for tips in preventing workplace slips, trips and falls.

Fall prevention from heights require more than common sense. In construction, mining, oil, and other industries, fall protection includes the use of workplace safety equipment such as harnesses, lanyards, and body belts.

Harnesses 

Chest harnesses are recommended for limited fall hazards only. It is usually used for rescue or retrieval of personnel from a confined space like tanks or large bins.

Full-body harnesses are best used for free fall hazards. Workers working at great heights should suit-up with a full-body harness instead of a chest harness or a body belt.

Lanyards

Rope lanyards have shock-absorption features that are best for vertical free fall hazards. Its elastic properties are designed to dissipate the force of a fall away from the worker’s body.

Web lanyards or non-shock absorbing lanyards are only recommended for fall hazards that are less than 2 ft.

Body Belts

There are 2 types of body belts – the single and the double D-ring belt. Both are recommended only for restraint and proper positioning and should not be used when fall hazards exists.

Fall Protection Program Checklist

Inspections

Conduct regular inspections of your fall protection gear. This is to make sure that the equipment is in working condition with no tears on the belts, or malfunctioning anchors that could be fatal for workers using the equipment. Always check each component of the fall protection system before use.  Also, keep a regularly updated record of inspection. This will serve as a reference and proof that the equipment is maintained properly.

Replacements

Replace harness, belts and other components of your fall protection system if worn or defective. Consult with the manufacturer if you have questions about the life-span of the equipment. Make sure every replaced component is reflected on the inspection record.

Energy Absorption Feature

Ensure that your fall arrest or fall protection system has energy absorption capacity to cushion the worker’s body against the sudden force of a free fall. Non-shock absorbing lanyards may cause trauma to a worker’s body especially from a fall at a greater height.

Manufacturer’s Manual

Read the manual. Know exactly the uses and limitations of each fall protection equipment. This includes instructions for adjustment, fit, application, inspection, and care. Read the hazard warnings as well as the recommendations.

Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z259

The non-profit organization, CSA, released the Z259 fall protection standards to guide workplace safety engineers on the right equipment for their workers. Choose the fall prevention system that meet or exceeds these recommendations to be sure of quality and reliability.

 

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