By Chad Engle, Loss Prevention and Safety Manager

Last weekend Nebraska experienced its first snow fall of the season with reports of 2 – 3 inches in the panhandle area and flurries throughout the rest of the state. I hate to say it, but old man winter is here.

According to my most recent workers’ compensation loss report, Fall or Slip is the leading cause of loss as NIRMA member employees have incurred approximately $4.9 million in the last five years because of falls in the workplace. Of that $4.9 million, 33% or $1.6 million were the result of falls on ice and snow. During that same timeframe, 663 falls occurred with 41%, or 266 of those due to falls on ice and snow.

Falls on ice and snow are preventable; this month’s article will highlight the ways our members can protect their employees and customers from falls on ice and snow and how individuals can prevent themselves from suffering an injury from a slip and fall.

Hazard Prevention

  • Timely, thorough, and documented snow removal.  Get snow cleared before employees and customers arrive.  Parking lots and walkways all the way to the entrance.
  • Follow-up parking lot and walkway inspections and snow removal.
  • Documented use of salt/ice melt on parking lot and walkway problem areas.
  • Warn employees and customers of hazardous areas.
  • Manage snow piles near walkways to avoid melting snow freezing on the walkway.
  • Pile snow below the grade or walkways to minimize downward flow back onto parking lots and walkways.
  • Designate safe paths of travel to and from buildings to discourage potentially dangerous shortcuts.
  • Maintain safe entrances.  Mats should lie flat to the floor, with no curled edges or wrinkles.  Mats replaced if soaked through.  Floors monitored and dry mopped when needed.  “Caution: Wet Floor” signs used if needed.

Personal Safety Precautions

  • Monitor the weather.  Be prepared for the current weather conditions when you head out of the house.
  • Wear the proper footwear for the weather conditions.  Non-slip footwear with cleats (when icy) and then change into casual footwear once you arrive at the office.
  • Take it slow and avoid distractions.  Walk slow and watch where you are stepping to avoid ice.
  • Walk like a penguin.  Walk flat footed and take short steps to keep your center of balance over your feet.
  • Step down, not out, from curbs and cars.  Parking lot falls are common – step flat-footed off curbs, step down with both feet when exiting your vehicle.  Park in areas that are ice and snow free if possible.
  • Report icy conditions to your supervisor or the maintenance person so that hazardous areas can be salted or shoveled.
  • If you spot an icy area and ice melt is available apply it yourself.
  • Do not attempt to walk “safely” over an icy area, go around it.

Property owners are responsible to take reasonable precautions to remove snow and ice, monitor their walkways and maintain them in a safe condition.  Employees and visitors are also responsible for taking reasonable personal precautions to avoid injury.  Together, we can avoid painful and costly slips and falls this winter.  Please reach out if you have any slip and fall related questions.  I am also available for training on this topic and can be reached at 1.800.642.6671 or