Although it generally does not last long, cold weather is once again upon us in Texas. Oftentimes with the cold comes the unforgiving north winds, freezing rain, sleet and snow that can catch us off-guard. Being prepared for winter weather events can reduce injuries and accidents, and even save lives.
When freezing precipitation events occur, many employees have experienced ice-related slips and falls, resulting in serious and debilitating injuries. Those employees deemed "necessary," such as police, fire, EMS, maintenance and various public works divisions, usually have no choice but to work on icy roads and terrain.
It is critical to create an awareness of hazardous conditions and provide training regarding the proper methods to walk on or around ice and snow. Some important safety reminders include:
- Walk slowly and wear slip-resistant footwear. Avoid wearing heels and footwear with slippery soles during ice and snow events.
- Avoid carrying large or bulky items on ice or snow. Wait for the ice or snow to melt or find assistance.
- Be cautious when getting in and out of vehicles. Maintain at least three points of contact (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand) with a handle, stair/step or the ground.
- Be aware of slippery floors when entering buildings. Use handrails and mats. Place caution signs at all entrances to buildings to reduce and warn about the possibility of falls.
- Use salt or other ice-melting methods at entrances to buildings and in parking lots. Be sure supplies are on hand before bad weather comes. Clean up wet areas. This will also help with reducing slips and falls that citizens could suffer.
- It is better to walk without your hands in your pockets (wear gloves to keep your hands warm), so you can use your hands to grip handrails or your arms to keep your balance.
Inexpensive, slip-on traction cleats are available at many retail shops and online, and can easily slip onto your regular shoes. (Image Credit by: Winter Walking)
Many TMLIRP member entities have begun utilizing a variety of ice cleats to help reduce slips and falls in winter conditions. These cleats provide traction on ice and snow using a variety of spikes, balls or chains. Cleats can be strapped easily and quickly to the bottom of an employee's shoes or boots. Ice cleats can be purchased in bulk and are usually very inexpensive, certainly in comparison to the suffering after a fall. Keeping a pair on hand in every entity vehicle and facility will ensure the cleats are available when needed. Ice cleats come in different sizes and will fit different types of shoes. Employees should be trained on their use and proper maintenance. Contact your local safety-equipment vendor to obtain additional information on how to purchase ice cleats for your entity.
Being prepared is the key to keeping employees safe this winter. Slips and falls are a significant concern, especially during icy weather.
The Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool is the leading provider of workers’ compensation, liability, and property coverage for local governments in Texas. Founded in 1974, we are the oldest and largest pool of its type in the United States, serving over 2800 governments and political subdivisions. We are driven to continue the mission that began over 40 years ago, providing our members with a tailored risk financing system through reliable partnership, performance, and service.
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