Date: April 2020
Slip and fall accidents can happen on walking surfaces in any season, but are more frequent in the winter due to ongoing icy and wet conditions. In the past several years, injuries due to slip and fall incidents are in the top five of the most frequently reported workers’ compensation claims for MCIT member employees. In addition, visitors can injure themselves on the same walking surfaces in the same public buildings and grounds. These injuries can range from simple bruises to broken bones, dislocated joints, and severe head and back injuries.
MCIT claim statistics show that slips and falls occur most frequently in the following locations:
- building entries
- sidewalks and parking lots
- loading docks and platforms
- areas where floor levels change
- food prep and service areas
- lunch rooms and break areas
- repair shops and equipment rooms
- by vehicle doors when entering or exiting
Slip and fall injuries can be prevented by implementing a slip and fall prevention program. Such a program provides a definite and responsible prevention plan that will protect employees and the public, as well as provide a defense against claims of negligence.
A slip and fall prevention program should provide for:
- maintaining proper housekeeping, including removing clutter and excess storage.
- periodically inspecting hallways, stairs, ramps, parking areas, sidewalks and other walking surfaces for hazards.
- applying de-ice agents to parking lots and sidewalks before a storm, during and after as needed.
- controlling drainage from roofs, parking lots and gutters to prevent ice buildup in walkways.
- placing temporary condition hazard warning signs in wet or slippery areas. Signs should be removed promptly when conditions improve so people do not become complacent when approaching such signs.
- plowing and removing snow promptly.
- using grated or moisture-absorbing mats at entrances where shoes and boots are cleaned. Stairways and ramps may need additional nonskid materials, such as textures or serrations, added to their surfaces to add friction. Nonskid paints and coatings can be added to metal and concrete surfaces to improve slip resistance.
- mopping up frequently around building entryways to clean up melted snow.
- provide information to employees about nonskid footwear for general use and in icy conditions.
- correcting any hazards noted during the inspection. This might include posting warning signs or highlighting hazards in sidewalks, parking lots, floors, stairways and ramps until they are repaired.
- providing proper lighting in corridors, stairways and parking areas.
- evaluating floor finishes to ensure that they have an adequate coefficient of friction.
- monitoring floor cleaning techniques to ensure that floors are as nonskid as possible, including using clean, uncontaminated mops and cleaners appropriate for the type of flooring.
Establish a Slip and Fall Prevention Program
MCIT members should develop a slip and fall prevention program that provides awareness and information for employees and the public. MCIT provides it members slip and fall awareness resources through the Step Wisely program. The Step Wisely program offers eye-catching materials about smart safety habits. These resources are easily downloadable for use from MCIT.org/step-wisely/.
Slip and fall accident data should be gathered, recorded and analyzed to help isolate the causes and implement slip and fall injury prevention policies and procedures. Safety committees are invaluable to help with these activities and can spearhead an active awareness and prevention program.
If members need specific information about preventing slip and fall accidents, they should contact their MCIT loss control consultant toll-free at 1.866.547.6516.
Liquid Potassium Acetate De-icer
Parking lots, sidewalks, outside stairs and ramps can be pre-treated with liquid potassium acetate de-icer up to 12 hours prior to a snow storm. Potassium acetate is an effective de-icer to -15 degrees Fahrenheit and is more environmentally friendly than salt, minimizing damage to vegetation and concrete.
Slip Resistance of Floor Finishes
The coefficient of friction (COF) is a number that indicates the slip resistance of a surface on a scale from 0 to 1. Readings higher than 0.5 are progressively less slippery and therefore safer. Numbers progressively lower than 0.5 are more slippery and considered unsafe. A higher COF should help reduce potential for slips on smooth floor surfaces. Only floor waxes and finishes labeled with a COF of 0.5 or greater should be used. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recommends a coefficient of friction of 0.6 for floors and 0.8 for ramps.
Chicken Grit on Ice
Chicken grit is a fine, sharp, crushed stone. When stepped on its multiple sharp points dig into the ice providing better traction. Made of quartzite, it is insoluble and shouldn’t stain or harm the lawn. Using the No. 2 size grit minimizes tracking and applying it a bit away from doors will help keep it from being kicked into the threshold where it can prevent doors from closing.