Winter in the Midwest brings about pretty scenery and snow, and it can also bring about severe injuries. In the insurance industry, we see some of the worst claims during the winter season that can have long-lasting injuries for your employees. Just like a student needs to prepare and study to get an A+ on their report card – so do your school employees when it comes to school safety. Schools can prepare for winter and reduce claims ensuring that all employees can arrive home safely at the end of the workday.
Here are a few tips that we think are helpful in promoting safety in your school district.
Communicate that winter is coming.
This may sound obvious but sending an email or bringing this topic up at a meeting or even standing in the hallway greeting employees and letting them know that winter is coming can be helpful. It’s a great reminder to help people slow down their driving and be aware of icy conditions that are common during the winter season. Another tip is to put graphics in entrances or in employee lounges to help with reminders – a tool called canva will help with graphics or ask if your workers’ comp provider can assist. At Direct Work Comp, we gladly help create whatever our clients need!
Promote proper shoes.
While dress shoes and high heels may look great, they are ultra-slick on the ice and account for a large portion of the slip and fall claims that occur during the winter season. Many times, people are carrying laptops or supplies for the day and when a slip and fall occurs they’re usually caught off guard. These types of claims can result in severe head injuries, torn shoulders, or broken kneecaps. It’s a great idea to have a written policy describing what type of shoes employees should wear when they arrived to work. It’s OK if they change shoes once they’re inside, but it’s best to have good shoes with proper traction as they make their way across the parking lot into the building.
Clear away snow and ice, quickly.
It’s a great idea to communicate to your maintenance crew or your independent snow removal contractor how you would like to have the snow removed and where it should be piled. Parking lots and walkways close to the building should be completed first while outliers and spaces that aren’t commonly used can be last. Use extra salt to add traction to walkways. Communicate to your employees which areas will be cleared first if they arrive to work early.
Promote see something, say something.
It’s a great idea to put buckets of salt or sand in the parking lot and by doors to allow employees to spread salt and sand as needed. Many times a hazard can be avoided if everyone who sees something either does something about it or communicates the problem to the right party. By placing these buckets and strategic parts of your grounds, employees have the ability two instantly put salt on an area if they recognize that the conditions are icy. This simple cost-effective risk management practice may save thousands of dollars in claims.
Put weather rugs in entryways or halls where the floors get wet from the snow.
Ideally, the best thing school can do is to have an entryway with scrubber tiles that collects salt, sand, and water as students and teachers arrive to work. Rugs may become a trip hazard if not used properly and monitored. Make sure to change the rugs often and mop any excess water. It’s a good idea to post wet floor signs also.
Repair trip hazards.
Repair hazards that can cause people to trip immediately. If unable to do so, then clearly mark the area until repaired. Examples of a trip hazard could be a pothole or crack in a parking lot. These things can be easily covered during snow and cause employees and injury if they are unaware of them. By marking them or repairing them you can ensure that your employees will have a safe path to work.
Install contrasting colors on uneven areas such as curbs or stairs.
Contrasting colors allows employees to notice that area. This is best done before the winter season and makes it easy for employees to identify different levels that they may be walking on.
Clean up wet floors as soon as possible.
It’s best to have maintenance staff constantly monitor high traffic areas where snow melts and floors become slippery. By having signs out and an aggressive plan to keep floors dry this will be one less thing that employees need to worry about when arriving to work.
If you implement the above safety tips, your school and employees will be on the right track to get an A+ on your safety report card! As much as implementing these tips will help, that doesn’t mean workplace injuries are out of the question. If your school district needs help with risk management or your workers’ compensation insurance, we would love to help. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.