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“Strongly Recommended” Is Not Strong Enough

11/17/14 9:19 AM

I help companies of all sizes, ranging from several hundred to more than 100,000 employees. On the surface, you wouldn’t think they have much in common when it comes to safety. But, in reality, their approaches are often identical when it comes to solving the problem of winter slips and falls on snow and ice.

The truth is, preventing winter slips and falls is low-hanging fruit in the world of employee safety. With minimal effort, effective safety professionals have the ability to save their organizations huge sums of money, in both workers compensation costs and lost production time.

Recently, I spoke with a senior corporate safety executive, and our conversation made me change my opinion:

industrial ice cleatsThere is indeed at least one big difference between large and small companies. Large companies don’t just “set it and forget it” when it comes to safety. They learn and evolve. Smaller companies, however, may implement a safety policy or program, and then divert their attention once it’s up and running. And that can be a costly mistake.

The senior executive I spoke with had experienced several high-cost incidents at his company within a period of days, as the result of a winter storm. At the end of the accident investigation, it was clear that everyone who slipped and fell was not wearing ice cleats. No matter how many times ice cleats had been “strongly recommended” to the employees, the results were the same. Employees were choosing not to use them.

Frustrated by these costly claims, this company now had enough hard data to realize the importance of changing their policy. In fact, they made a decision during the middle of the winter – every employee was now mandated to wear ice cleats and traction aids while walking and working outdoors.

So yes, “strongly recommended” is not the same as “mandatory.” When employees hear, “I strongly recommend using traction aids,” they may interpret it as, “I don't really care if you use traction aids or not.”

If you are concerned with the high cost of winter slip and fall incidents, and frustrated by the lack of employee buy-in, it’s important to take control and mandate usage. After all, isn’t it Safety’s job to keep everyone safe in the workplace whether or not the employees are on board?


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Bill Coyne is the VP of Sales for Winter Walking. He has been helping organizations across a wide variety of business sectors prevent workplace slips and falls in ice and snow for over 20 years. Winter Walking currently helps some of the world’s largest organizations keep their employees both safer and more productive while working outdoors in the winter season. Contact bill@winterwalking.com or visit www.winterwalking.com.

ice and snow traction, employee compliance, ice cleats, safety, slip and fall reduction, Winter Preparedness, Winter Traction, working outdoors, workplace accidents, workplace slips and falls