The winter season poses a new danger to worker safety due to slippery surfaces because of snow and ice. Approximately one-third of all accidents at workplaces occur due to slips and falls.
Jeremy Bradshaw, personal injury lawyer with the law firm Mace & Jones, is of the view that employers must adopt special procedures to minimise the risk posed by the winter season in order to reduce their risk of facing compensation claims at a later stage.
Car parking floors must be gritted or salted to lessen the risk posed by ice or snow coverage. In case of stairs, polished floors and sloping surfaces, the risk is greatly increased because of the transfer of ice and water from shoes. One could use absorbent mats to collect water and keep these surfaces dry and non-slippery. However, simply placing the mats is not the solution. There has to be a procedure of regular checks so that damp and soggy mats are immediately replaced.
The above steps will minimise the risk of accidents, but such accidents will still occur and generate compensation claims for companies. Thus, Bradshaw advises employers to have documentary evidence of the safety measures adopted to prevent fall on slippery surfaces. Such documents will be accepted as legal evidence and they will definitely help the company in case of compensation claims.
Bradshaw says that this risk should be taken in all seriousness. The figures for 2008-09 are quite alarming – 10,368 major injuries and 23,797 minor injuries. Thus, there is no doubt that urgent action from employers is required in this regard.