Winter is Coming

No this is not Jon Snow warning you of the Night King and your impending doom.  Rather, it is just a friendly reminder that as the seasons are changing and as winter is approaching your approach to ensuring safe employee ingress and egress, from your community’s property, becomes more problematic. 

For example, do you have a deicing policy for sidewalk areas coming into your building?  What kind of staff coverage do you have if the person, who has the responsibility to de-ice, is unable show up to work on a day that the sidewalks are icy?   If you do have a backup person, is their schedule such that they can perform the deicing duties early enough to precede most of your staff coming in to work?  In other words, will the timing of the deicing occur at a time to provide maximum benefit to your staff?

On a related note, how far do you take your deicing activities out onto your property?  Is it limited to common walkways or do you also attempt to address parking areas?  Did you know that, in most circumstances, parking areas are excluded from L&I coverage, if the parking lot is used exclusively for employee parking purposes?  Therefore, in theory, if a slip and fall occurs on property used exclusively for employee parking, a workers’ compensation injury claim may be rejected.  But wait, before you relax your vigilance and feel that you can let your staff slip, slide and fall to their hearts content in your employee parking lot, pay heed to this dire warning.  Because a fall occurs in the parking lot, the worker can sue you and your community for negligence.  Parking lot injuries can result in the loss of immunity protections employers enjoy under the workers’ compensation system.  Because no workers’ compensation claim is possible, good old-fashioned negligence law goes into effect.  Keep that in mind when you are deciding how far your de-icing and snow clearing activities go.

As the days shorten, keep lighting in mind, as well.  If your outside lighting is on a timer, rather than on a photocell, make sure your maintenance staff changes the timers as appropriate for diminishing sunlight as we approach winter.  You should also look for areas on your grounds where your outdoor lighting is inadequate.  Consider sprucing up your lighting to fill in darks areas where people are stepping off curbs and who might misjudge the height of the curb and distance to the pavement beneath it.   It is especially important to ensure that lighting is adequate to discourage assault on your employees.

Identifying areas needing improved lighting could be a good activity to assign to your safety committee.     

Just keeping these few things in mind will make less oppressive Jon Snow’s stark warning, “Winter’s Coming.”  If you’re prepared you will boldly answer, “Let it come.”