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Safety Tips for preventing Winter Slips & Falls

It’s that time of season where slips & falls occur at an increasing number.  Slip and fall accidents increase during the Autumn and Winter season for a number of reasons:

  • there is less daylight
  • leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippery
  • cold weather spells cause ice and snow to build up on paths

There are effective actions that you can take to reduce the risk of a slip,trip or fall. Regardless of the size of your site, always ensure that regularly used walkways are promptly tackled.

Remember to keep walkways, pavements and steps clear of leaves (a snow pusher doubles up as a leaf pusher and will cost no more than £19), snow and ice. However, there may be icy patches that may not have been cleared before people get to the office or place of work. Listed below is some good advice on being aware of your surroundings during the winter months and ways to prevent slips and falls.

Walking to and from car parks and between buildings during the winter requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. We often forget how dangerous slipping and falling can be, make sure icy pathways are dealt with by using De-icing Salts.

No matter how well the snow and ice is removed from streets and pavements, employees will encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. Each year numerous employees are injured from slips and falls. It is important to be continually aware of the dangers and to walk safely on ice and slippery surfaces.

Prevention of slips and falls is particularly important during the winter months when many exterior walking surfaces are wet and/or slippery.

What precautions can you take to reduce falls?

A few simple precautions can help reduce your chances of being injured from a slip and fall.

  • Use entrance mats to remove moisture from the soles of your shoes upon enter a building.
  • Don’t allow rain that has collected on your umbrella to be deposited on indoor walking surfaces.
  • Avoid inclines and slippery walking surfaces if possible.
  • Be aware of your footing and any potential slip, trip or fall hazard that may be present.
  • Select appropriate footwear. Remember that no shoe sole material is perfect under all conditions. Shoes soles made of hard plastic or leather and high-heeled shoes are less than ideal, especially during wet weather.
  • Report slip, trip and fall hazards.
  • Use a handrail where available.

Remember that most slip injuries are on wet or contaminated (e.g. food, oil) floors. Far fewer slips happen on clean, dry floors – so this should be your first aim. When someone slips, his or her foot slides on the film of contaminant instead of making firm contact with the floor itself. Don’t forget that dry contaminants, such as dust or plastic bags, can also cause people to slip and fall.

Preventing slip and trip injuries is a question of  good housekeeping.  Keeping areas where people walk free from obstructions, debris and misplaced items and making sure that they are kept in good condition with no holes or unevenness undoubtedly reduces trip injuries. Be sure that it is actually possible for staff to work to good housekeeping standards. Have enough space for items to be properly stored rather than placed on the floor, have walkways and thoroughfares clearly identified, have a system for damage reporting and repair and challenge bad housekeeping practice when it occurs.

Is it better to have a doormat inside or outside?

Whether you want to keep your floors clean or reduce the risk of a slippery floor in the winter, it is important to consider where you place a doormat. Different types of mats cater to different functionalities; the properties of these mats usually depend on whether they are placed indoors or outdoors. 

Place entrance matting inside your workplace for employees and visitors to wipe any moisture or dirt from their shoes. Indoor mats are typically more absorbent than outdoor mats and are designed to help keep indoor flooring dry to reduce the risk of injury. 

What size should an entry mat be?

It takes, on average, eight steps for dirt to naturally fall from your shoes without any effort.  With this in mind, an entrance mat, with passers-by actively removing the dirt from their shoes, should be around 2-3 metres. 

Does entrance matting require underlay? 

Underlay may be required for your entrance matting, but it is typically determined by the chosen material of your entrance mat. Some entrance matting comes equipped with some backing for reliability and stability underfoot; however, if your chosen mat doesn’t come with backing, then underlay can make your entrance matting safer and more reliable as it will eliminate any movement or bunching. 

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