Written by J. Sundberg

We all know the feeling. That terrifying lapse of control as you step across an open parking lot, begin to slip on ice, then quickly regain your balance. Or maybe you did fall, and it hurt—a lot.

Slips, trips and falls are—by far—the most common workplace injury. In the US in 2014, there were 42,480 workplace injuries and illnesses involving ice, sleet, or snow that required at least one day away from work to recuperate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While most weather-related injuries are minimal, falls can be fatal. What’s more, these incidents are almost always preventable. Several things can be done to reduce the occurrence of ice and snow slip and fall incidents:

Have a Snow and Ice Removal Plan

Someone should be in charge of plowing, shoveling and salting your facilities—whether it’s the business owner or a contracted maintenance company. This work should be done before business hours so that all walkways are safe before employees begin to arrive in the morning.

It can also be helpful to designate a main entrance for employees to use on snowy and icy days. That way, you can clear that area of snow and ice first to avoid slip and fall incidents. You may even want to remind employees not to arrive early on days with inclement weather so your snow removal team has time to finish the job.

Identify the Most Hazardous Areas

Take a walk around your facility. Make note of any areas where water is likely to pool on the ground. Doing this will help you discover areas where extra care should be taken. It may even be helpful to do this in the rain so you can see where the water flows. After identifying these areas, inform the person(s) responsible for snow and ice removal, and try to redirect water flow to more appropriate areas.

Remind Employees to be Mindful of Snow and Ice

While you can’t prevent every slip and fall, you can equip your employees with some tactics to avoid injury. It’s as simple as a reminder on their way out the door:

  • Use arms for balance; Walking with hands in your pockets is a recipe for disaster. If you lose your balance, you won’t be able to use your arms to steady yourself.
  • Be mindful of where you park; Avoid parking next to icy areas or places where water pools. When you get out of your car, step carefully and hold onto the vehicle for balance.
  • Use handrails—They’re there for a reason!
  • If you do fall, try to roll into it; Drop anything you’re carrying and relax your body as best you can.
  • Take small steps and walk slowly.

Be Prepared When an Injury Happens

When a workplace injury does occur, visit one of Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine’s locations. With several decades of combined experience and a dedicated Workers’ Compensation team, we provide high-quality care while keeping your company’s interests in mind.