Slip and trip accidents increase during the Autumn and Winter season for a number of reasons, other than ice and snow:
- Less daylight
- Leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippery
- Surface water
- Very hot weather, very cold weather, roots and vegetation can crack the pathway surface
However, there are effective actions that you can take to reduce the risk of a slip or trip, regardless of the size of your site...issues to consider during the winter months:
Is there is enough lighting around your workplace for you and your workers to be able to see and avoid hazards that might be on the ground? The easiest way to find out is to ask your staff. Another way is to shadow your employees for a couple of days, walk the main internal and external routes that they use throughout their working day. It is important to do this both inside and outside of the workplace, as the effect of light changes during the day. If you can't see hazards on the ground you will need to improve the lighting (e.g. new lights or changing the type of bulb).
Wet and decaying leaves
Fallen leaves that become wet or have started to decay can create slip risks in two ways, they hide any hazard that may be on the path or they themselves create a slip risk. Put in place a procedure for removing leaves at regular intervals; you might even consider removing the offending bushes or trees altogether. If you work on a site where this is not possible an option may be to use traction products such as ICESPIKE
ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip Kahtoola MICROspikes or the SNOW & ICE GRIP. These products are used by the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission
Ice, frost and snow
To reduce the risk of slips on ice, frost or snow, you need to assess the risk and put in a system to manage it.
Identify the outdoor areas in which your operatives have to work. If they need ice grips, the terrain and environment will dictate the type needed. e.g. a more rubust quality ice grip such as ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip will be needed by refuse collectors, who are on their feet all day. Whereas district health staff may require a lighter, occasional use traction product such as ICEGRIPPER Pull On ICe Grip
Monitor the temperature, as prevention is key. You need to take action whenever freezing temperatures are forecast. Keep up to date by visiting a weather service site such as the Met Office or the Highways Agency
There are also smart signs on the market, available to buy at low cost, which display warning messages when the temperature slips below freezing.
Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface forming on commonly used areas such as entrance areas and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface;
Use grit (see separate article below for more detail) or similar
Consider covering walkways e.g. by an arbour high enough for people to walk through, or use an insulating material on smaller areas overnight;
Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.
If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.
The most common method used to de-ice floors is gritting as it is relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Rock salt (plain and treated) is the most commonly used 'grit'. It is the substance used on public roads by the highways authority.
Salt can stop ice forming and cause existing ice or snow to melt. It is most effective when it is ground down, but this will take far longer on pedestrian areas than on roads.
Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times are early in evening before the frost settles and/or early in the morning before employees arrive. Salt doesn't work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.
If you grit when it is raining heavily the salt will be washed away, causing a problem if the rain then turns to snow. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat effectively with grit. Be aware that 'dawn frost' can occur on dry surfaces, when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface. It can be difficult to predict when or where this condition will occur.
In dealing with rainwater:
- When fitting external paved areas ensure that the material used will be slip resistant when wet.
- Discourage people from taking shortcuts over grass or dirt which are likely to become slippery when wet. Consider converting existing shortcuts into proper paths.
- On new sites, before laying paths, think about how pedestrians are likely to move around the site. Putting the path in the right place from the start may save you money in the long term.
- Many slip accidents happen at building entrances as people entering the building walk in rainwater. Fitting canopies of a good size over building entrances and in the right position can help to prevent this.
- If a canopy is not a possibility, consider installing large, absorbent mats or even changing the entrance flooring to one which is non-slip.
ICEGRIPPER supplies over 40 UK Local Authorities, Government Departments and major industrial companies.
We have tested over 100 ice grips, boot and other winter products and have built up an unrivalled experience in the use and application of winter traction products. We stock one of the widest ranges of ice grips for the industrial user and can offer advice on products for a variety of operatives:
- Emergency response staff
- Highways maintenance engineers
- Oil industry exploration and processing engineers
- Critical and key staff within an organisation
- Refuse collection and depot operatives
- Airport (airside) ground staff
- Camera operatives and film crews
- Ski resort operatives
- Search and rescue
- Emergency services
- Forest rangers and parkland managers
- Farming and food processing operatives
We offer trial and evaluation samples to interested Health and Safety specifiers. So, if you are tasked with reducing winter slip and fall accidents, minimising litigation from employees and customers or just maintaining winter productivity please call or mail us for more information.
Office: 0844 272 3444
Mob: 07966 191 737