Reducing the risk of winter accidents and injuries

Most Missouri residents know that snowy winter weather may lead to slips, falls and injuries. For business owners, it may be especially important to find ways to make their properties safer for employees and visitors. There are several steps employers may take to reduce the chances of slips, falls and other accidents happening during the winter.

Snow, sleet and other winter weather phenomena may drastically increase the number of slip-and-fall incidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ice, sleet and/or snow contributed to 1,040 occupational injuries and illnesses in Missouri in 2014. The incidence rate (per 10,000 workers) for such injuries in Missouri was 4.8, which was higher than the national average.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a variety of tips to help employers keep their workplaces safer during the winter. It is important for employers to encourage safe winter driving practices, especially for employees operating company vehicles and equipment. Employers should keep parking lots, walking paths and building entrances free from snow and ice. Allowing employees to telecommute during severe winter weather may also reduce the chance of workplace injuries.

It is especially important to follow proper procedures when clearing snow from a roof. Ice on the roof may be dangerous for maintenance workers; they may risk falling through skylights obscured by snow or getting too close to power lines or electrical equipment. It is often better to find a method of snow removal that does not involve workers climbing on the roof. If an employee must go to the roof, an employer should make sure there is adequate personal protective equipment. The right equipment and precautions may keep business owners and their visitors and employees safer throughout the winter months.

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