Winter slips, trips, and falls: frequent, costly, and often preventable

Winter slips, trips, and falls: frequent, costly, and often preventable

 

Winter slips, trips, and falls: frequent, costly, and often preventable

By RAS Companies

RAS is a Participating Insurer in the MSBAIT Risk Protection Program.

Slip and falls are one of the most frequently reported on-the-job injuries and the most costly. Through review of reported Minnesota school district staff injuries, we estimate that roughly 50% of your school district’s workers’ compensation premium may be going to cover the costs of slip, trip, and fall injuries alone. Add the indirect expenses of training or paying substitute employees, and the costs grow. With cold weather factors in play, the likelihood of this type of accident occurring increases that much more.

Preventing these winter incidents can be difficult, but the success stories below show how awareness campaigns and programs can make a difference. Success is possible! Don’t give up!

Provision of Ice Cleats

  • One metro Minneapolis district provided each of their bus drivers with a pair of transitional traction ice cleats and dropped their ice/snow-related slips and falls to just one in the year following.
  • Transitional traction cleats have been found effective on ice, slush, and snow, while still deemed safe for driving and indoor wear, making it unnecessary to remove them when stepping inside the bus depot, onto bus steps, or into bus aisles.
  • Also, an excellent idea for custodians when taking out the trash or clearing snow.
  • More information on these LOW-PRO cleats can be found at https://www.winterwalking.com.

Video Contest

  • A large regional school district held a “Walk Like a Penguin” video contest.
  • Staff and students were challenged to submit a video instructing others to make safe winter walking choices, including the penguin waddle.
  • Classrooms and staff watched the videos to vote for their favorites – the safety message was enthusiastically shared and spread!
  • The district enjoyed fewer slip/fall injuries.

Re-Energized Prevention Efforts

  • After an increase in snow and ice related injuries, a metro Minnesota district launched a focused slip and fall prevention campaign for the 2022-2023 winter.
  • Their efforts included:
    • Weekly winter walking safety reminders to staff.
    • Personal reinforcement of these messages by supervisors during meetings.
    • Encouragement of winter-appropriate footwear.
    • Increased use of safety posters and yard signs.
    • More consistent inspections of outdoor walking conditions and increased focus on snow-clearing and salting/sanding efforts.
    • Improved outdoor lighting.
  • Despite the challenging 2022-2023 winter weather, the district decreased its number of snow and ice-related claims by 67% and reduced its injury costs by 94%.

Tips to Prevent Winter Falls

  • Wear proper footwear, such as snow boots, while carrying indoor footwear in a bag. Wear ice boots or use shoe coverings available at sporting goods and hardware stores for extra protection on icy surfaces. Please note that many of these products are not safe to wear indoors, so remove them upon entering a building.
  • Use a shaker bottle to sprinkle sand near your car before stepping out or in. Be sure to maintain three points of contact.
  • Sprinkle sand in front of you as you walk. Doing so will improve traction and decrease fall risk for you and everyone who walks in the same path later.
  • Slow down, walk flat-footed, and use a wide stance when walking on potentially icy surfaces.
  • Use extra caution near melted runoff areas as water may have re-frozen.
  • Walk across designated areas only; avoid taking shortcuts.
  • Watch for trip hazards, such as cracks in the pavement, debris, or ice chunks.
  • Avoid carrying items in front of you.
  • Wipe shoes well when coming in from wet or slushy conditions. Wet boots or shoes can make smooth surfaces very slick during any of the four seasons.
  • Report slick or icy areas of concern. Chances are that if you slipped or almost slipped, the next person may too!

Keep making this 2023-2024 school year a very safe and healthy one for you, your employees, your students, parents, and so many others in your school community!

For more information about RAS and risk management issues, visit our website at https://www.rascompanies.com.

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