Dec 20, 2017

Worker injuries spike in winter weather

Slips, trips, falls are Nova Scotia’s third most common cause of workplace injury

Each year, thousands of Nova Scotia workers are injured when they fall on wet, slippery or snowy surfaces. In fact, slips trips and falls were the third most common cause of workplace injury in the province in 2016. 

According to WCB Nova Scotia figures released yesterday, more than 1,200 workers lost time from work last year after they slipped, tripped or fell while working. Slip and fall injuries consistently see a spike during the winter months, as workers navigate slippery surfaces, as well as ice and snow. 

"A slip, trip or fall can happen to anyone in just about any workplace," says Shelley Rowan, vice president of prevention and service delivery with WCB Nova Scotia. "Identifying and addressing the hazards is important - during the winter, and all year long."

On average, each slip, trip and fall-related injury results in 61 days of work loss. WCB Nova Scotia received 3,632 slip, trip and fall claims last year.

There are many easy steps that can be taken to help prevent these injuries, says Rowan. "By addressing hazards, both inside and outside of the workplace, employers can prevent injuries and help their employees get home safe at the end of the day."

Slippery floors are a major culprit, especially when snow and ice are tracked indoors. Factories, kitchens, loading docks, health care facilities and even office environments need to be vigilant in identifying and correcting slippery conditions before they can cause a workplace injury. 

 Workers in home service sectors like home care, delivery, and utility services also face hazards as they travel across icy or snow-covered sidewalks and walkways to do their work. These workers are encouraged to take extra care in winter weather and to: Maintain three points of contact at all times when getting in or out of vehicles, meaning always keep both hands and one foot, or both feed and one hand on a stable surface; Pay attention to the weather forecast and be aware of the additional risks associated with rain, snow and black ice; Wear the right footwear for the elements; and take time and use handrails whenever possible. 

Everyone has a responsibility to make their property safe for workers. All Nova Scotians can make sure their home or workplace is safe by: Keeping driveways, sidewalks, stairs and ramps free of ice and snow; Keeping entrances lit during evening hours; Applying salt or sand as needed; and understanding that your property can be another person's workplace.