Picks from Our Editors: Prevent Slips This Winter

Winter is here, which means it’s time to think safety. Over the coming months, several key factors will play a large role in the formation of potential slip and fall accidents. Fortunately, accidents can be prevented with just a bit of planning and proactive maintenance. Use the resources below to ensure your facility is prepared and equipped to handle storms, crowds, and other unforeseen incidents through the holiday and winter season.

Crowd Management

Last year, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a press release to help businesses prepare for a safe and fruitful holiday shopping season. In the release, Dr. David Michaels explains, “The busy shopping season should not put retail workers at risk of being injured or killed,” (i). In his quote, Dr. Michaels seems to be reflecting on the tragic events of Black Friday 2008. That day, a Wal Mart employee lost his life when a crowd of shoppers stormed the storefront for rock bottom pricing on electronics and other consumer goods. In an effort to ensure such accidents are not repeated, OSHA releases tips for effective crowd management for retailers to employ during busy shopping hours. Tips include:

  1. Designate trained security personnel to monitor on-site crowds
  2. Use crowd control ropes, posts, and stanchions to create line queues that effectively route customers to displays, registers, and customer service areas.
  3. Develop and distribute emergence response plans.
  4. Use signage, greeters, PA systems, and other tools to assist in communicating with large crowds (assume noise levels will be high).
  5. Keep major points of entry and exit clear.
  6. Charge at least one security guard or employee with stopping incoming visitor flow once store has reached capacity.

Snow Management

Lack of friction is the #1 cause of most slip and fall accidents. Ice, snow, rock salt, and liquid accumulation can all play a role in reducing friction, and increasing the likelihood of a slip. For this reason, businesses are advised to create a snow management plan that keeps facilities accessible throughout the winter. When formulating a plan, a few goals to consider may include:

  1. Improving storefront accessibility via well shoveled and salted stairs, ramps, and sidewalks.
  2. Increasing patron safety by keeping parking lots clear.
  3. Monitoring and improving the plan.
  4. Maintaining cost efficiency over time.

Floor Mat Laundering

As noted above, most slip and fall accidents are caused by a lack of friction. Patches of ice and snow are not the only way friction is lost, however. Business owners are sometimes surprised to learn that floor mats— especially carpet mats— can cause a slip or trip if not properly maintained. Like a sponge, carpet mats absorb moisture and debris until they no longer have room to absorb any more. When this happens, additional moisture and debris settle on the surface of the mat and friction is lost. Follow these tips to keep carpet mats in good condition this winter:

  1. Vacuum regularly.
  2. Clean spills immediately.
  3. Hire a professional to perform a deep cleaning at regular intervals.

To learn more about our hassle-free approach that keeps your facility clean, safe, and healthy for everyone, visit our Commercial Flooring Services page.

General Maintenance

Finally, stay proactive in general maintenance to improve safety this winter. This includes:

  1. Keep uncovered floor surfaces clean and dry.
  2. Charge maintenance personnel with monitoring specific areas for spills and/or dangerous situations, and give them the tools and authority needed to remedy the situation in a reasonable manner.
  3. Perform regular facility walk-throughs to assess known dangers, making sure the correct safety protocols are in place.
  4. Check all interior and exterior lights, changing burned out or otherwise defective bulbs immediately. Pay particular attention to lights above staircases, within stairwells, in elevator lobbies, or along corridors with uneven transitions in the floor.

Contact Eagle Mat

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(i) https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=25104