By Chad Engle, Loss Prevention and Safety Specialist
As I write this month’s article it is a balmy 94 degrees. Don’t get too comfortable in your shorts and sandals though, the 10-day forecast has the highs down to 65° by the same time next week. With October here it is the perfect time to get prepared for the upcoming winter weather.
We’ve been doing this long enough to know that with each bout of snowfall comes multiple slip and fall injuries to our member employees and their customers. It is one of the less pleasant side effects of snow and ice. We can’t simply resign ourselves to the fact that it’s a part of living in Nebraska, while that may be true, we have a duty to protect our employees and customers from winter weather related hazards.
Prevention should be our initial focus. Timely and thorough snow removal is key. Our goal is to remove all snow from all walking and driving surfaces prior to our employee’s arrival. If that is impossible, definitely prior to being open for business. If the snowfall continues throughout the day, so should the snow removal. If ice is an issue salt/sand/ice melt should be used on problem areas.
NIRMA recommends maintaining records of when snow removal started and when it was completed. Please document ongoing snow removal after the initial removal is complete. The use of salt/ sand/ice melt needs to be documented as well. This documentation should include the time it was applied, the location and how much was used. This information is invaluable for claims and defense staff if a claim is presented after an alleged fall due to ice or snow. All ongoing snow removal and additional application of salt/sand/ice melt should be documented as well.
When piling up snow it is best to pile it downhill and as far as practical from walking and driving paths, so that melting and refreezing snow doesn’t cause additional slip hazards. The snow removal and salt/sand/ice melt process should be documented daily until the hazard is gone.
During snow fall it is also important to keep an eye on entrances, both inside and outside, to maintain them in as dry a condition as possible. Be prepared with additional rugs and mats so that they can be replaced when saturated. Courthouse floors are often tile or marble and can become very slippery when wet, it is recommended that these are mopped on a regular basis to keep them as dry as possible. “Caution Wet Floor” signs should be used to warn employees and customers of hazardous conditions. Remember to take them down once the floors are dry, don’t leave them up throughout the entire winter season.
Investigate all reports of slip or trip and falls. Don’t wait for a claim to be made. Conditions can change over a matter of hours, if we wait to take photos the incident scene could look totally different than it did at the time of the occurrence. Please check security footage and pull any video that would be useful in the investigation in addition to taking multiple photos. Remind all employees to notify the contact person or a member of the safety committee if an incident occurs, don’t assume someone else will. There are accident investigation forms available at https://nirma.info to help you through the process.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Claims or Loss Prevention Department. We’d be happy to walk you through the process. We can always be reached at 800.642.6671 or email@example.com.