Every year thousands of workplace accidents occur due to winter weather. Whether it is slips and falls on icy surfaces, or car accidents on the way to work, winter weather in Wisconsin can make daily activities more dangerous. Injuries from accidents can cost your business time and money, not to mention the harm caused to employees. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to maintain a safe environment, or you could be liable for worker injuries.
Tips for preventing winter workplace accidents
Keep up with outdoor winter maintenance
With winter in Wisconsin comes cold temperatures and frequent ice and snow. The Department of Transportation reports Wisconsin experiences between 35 to 40 winter weather events each year. Be sure to maintain your premises carefully before and after snowfalls or ice storms. Adjust drains and gutters to direct water away from walkways so you do not have pooling water that freezes in the middle of a sidewalk. Snow blow, shovel and generously salt, especially bearing in mind raised or uneven surfaces.
Invest in winter Floor mats
On a blustery day when employees or customers trek snow into the building, strategically placed mats or carpets in entryways will absorb the water, keeping the floor dry. That will help employees dry their shoes before stepping onto slippery surfaces that could cause accidents. The type of floor mats you choose depends on the work environment and the types of materials used. Natural rubber mats work well in areas that are just impacted by water. But if you are using chemicals and oils, you will want a synthetic mat that is also resistant to harsher fluids. Check mats and carpets frequently to avoid bunching and trip hazards.
Keep up with cleaning
While mats and rugs can do wonders for absorbing winter’s snowy and muddy messes, it’s important to keep up with mopping and cleaning in the winter months. Make sure to wipe up melted snow that’s been brought in immediately, so employees and customers don’t slip and fall. Slips, trips and falls are a top cause of injury to employees. Be careful not to clean floors with solutions such as dish soap or glass cleaner that could cause them to become more slippery.
Use safety signs
A well-placed caution sign can go a long way in preventing injury. After mopping up excess water, use caution signs in the area to make sure everyone knows the surface may still be slick. Wet floor signs are required by law as slippery floors are considered a foreseeable hazard. The Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration states the signs should be yellow and include the word caution in black with a panel and border. The sign should remain out until the floor is completely dry, which could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour after mopping.
Encourage sensible footwear
Footwear is a leading cause of slips, trips and falls, so this winter, encourage employees to wear winter-appropriate footwear with tread. Avoid wearing regular sneakers or other shoes with smooth bottoms or high heels, as these have less traction and are therefore higher risk. At a time when ice and snow are often prevalent and make things slippery, businesses may want to recommend that employees invest in slip resistant shoes. One study found that employees who were enrolled in a slip resistant shoe program and wore slip resistant shoes filed 67% fewer claims for slip injuries.
Monitor weather and keep employees informed
Create a safety culture in your workplace to help employees make the best decisions on what level of caution to take. Monitor storms closely and make an early call on letting employees work remotely or if you need to close for the day during bad weather. Although you can’t control how employees drive to work in winter weather, you can control when they are forced to weather the elements.
Winter weather in Wisconsin adds another layer to workplace safety. Keep your business and employees protected this winter and all year round by reaching out to your local Rural Mutual agent.