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Fall 1998 Volume 3

Feature Articles

Whoops! You slip on the ice. Oww! You turn an ankle, or worse yet, break a hip. The effects of a winter slip or fall can be devastating not only for the individuals who take the fall, but for the companies who could suffer financially as a result of the accident.

Each year, more than 12,000 Americans die as a result of a fall. Only automobile accidents and workplace violence kill more people per year than accidental falls. Hundreds of thousands of people receive both major and minor injuries in slip and fall accidents.

The cost attributed to a fall death or injury is also significant. A death resulting from a fall can be a large liability on an employer. A back strain injury resulting from a slip and fall can be expensive. The accidental fall can result in additional production costs, lost income for the injured person, possible OSHA fines, legal costs and more. Therefore, preventing falls in the workplace should be a priority in providing a safe work environment.

As the charts below indicate, the number and severity of slips and falls increases in the winter months as workers and customers tread over snowy, wet and icy ground. Rain, snow and ice can create slippery conditions in parking lots and along walkways and stairs. The best way to avoid a serious slip or fall this winter is to recognize these hazardous conditions and take proper precautions.

  • Do not allow plowed snow to remain in a parking lane long after most snow has melted. Slips and falls can easily occur as people enter and leave the right-hand side of their vehicle.
  • Be sure to remove remelted snow and ice after the application of winter salt.
  • Remember to adequately salt walkways. The appearance of a clear path may cause people to proceed with less caution.
  • Remove snow that may have been plowed into a parking space during an emergency snow removal situation. The danger to pedestrians and those exiting vehicles is considerable.
  • What appears to be a minor accumulation of snow in a parking area next to a curb may seem very innocent in nature but has the potential for creating serious injuries.
  • Poor snow removal procedures will hide defective conditions of walkway areas and thus double hazards.
  • Do not allow ice to accumulate on parking lots. Deal with snow and ice immediately.
Work Comp incurred losses for 1995-1997 chart Liability incurred losses for 1995-1997 chart

What is a “slip and fall?”
What trial attorneys commonly call a “slip and fall” accident is actually one of several types of fall accidents. Within these categories, there are many issues which can come into play:

  • Presence or absence of handrails.
  • Lighting.
  • Field of vision of the victim.
  • Physical barriers.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Maintenance.

In some case, these factors and others must be considered in evaluating, preparing, settling and litigating a slip and fall claim.

Tips for employees on avoiding winter slips and falls

  • High heels should not be worn outside during inclement weather. Flat shoes with slip resistant soles or rain/snow boots are best.
  • When walking across ice or snow, be sure to take short, flat steps.
  • When entering a building, remember to shake your umbrella outside and clean your footwear thoroughly on the floor mats or carpet.
  • Once inside a building, don’t walk too fast and avoid making sharp changes in direction.

Driving in winter means cold temperatures, snow, sleet and ice that can lead to slower traffic and dangerous road conditions. To make it safely through winter, make sure your vehicles are prepared.

  • Have the brakes checked.
  • Make sure tires have enough tread.
  • Clear all snow and ice completely off windows, side view mirrors, headlights, taillights and license plates.
  • Keep at least half a tank of fuel in vehicles to minimize the chance of running out of fuel.
  • Change to the proper weight oil.
  • Pack a winter survival/emergency kit, complete with a blanket, warm clothes, flashlight, nonperishable foods, snow shovel, windshield brush, flares or reflective triangle.
  • Consider driving outside of the previous tire tracks to provide extra traction.
  • If you go into a skid, remember the Off/Off rule - keep your foot off the brake and off the accelerator.

Sprinkler freeze-up can render your sprinkler system useless. If a fire should start, your building and contents might be damaged or completely ruined.

Even if a fire does not occur, your property can sustain considerable water damage. Freezing can crack pipes and thaw can permit water to soak the building and its contents. In addition to water damage, valuable time is lost in cleaning up the premises, repairing the building and replacing stock.

Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It’s not the radial expansion of the ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe cause water pressure to increase downstream between the ice blockage and the next closed valve. It’s this increase in water pressure, literally thousands of pounds of pressure, that leads to pipe failure. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed.

Protecting Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems

  • Make sure sufficient heat is provided in all sprinkler areas to prevent freezing of water in pipes.
  • Sprinklers in concealed spaces are susceptible to freezing even where heating systems run through the area.
  • Make drain tests regularly to check water pressure and alarms.
  • In small areas where sufficient heat cannot be provided, make sure the cold weather valves are closed and the water is drained from the pipes. Attach a warning tag to each valve to indicate it is closed for the winter.

Protecting Dry Pipe Sprinkler Systems

  • Low drains on all dry pipe systems should be drained each October and at frequent intervals during cold weather if air is required to be pumped into the system due to loss of pressure.
  • Inspect dry valve enclosures to determine if they are well insulated and in good repair.
  • Have a safe, adequate and reliable heat source for the riser to prevent freezing.

Contact EMC For More Sprinkler System Safety Tips

Ask your EMC representative for a copy of our free brochure, Protection Against Sprinkler Freeze-Up. It is packed with helpful tips to protect your property and contents all winter long.

To make a computer system capable of operating properly in the year 2000, every line of code must be analyzed and may require changes. If any are missed, the other corrections may be useless. This type of analysis is usually slow, costly and beyond the expertise of a typical business or institution.

The correction process is the problem for most organizations, but there are some initial steps that can be taken to isolate potential Y2K losses and prioritize corrective action plans.

The action steps which follow are gleaned from a wide variety of sources working to bring information on Y2K compliance to businesses and institutions. Computer problems associated with Y2K will arrive at midnight, January 1, 2000. Some may arrive sooner. That is why it is important to establish a Year 2000 Project now. A written Y2K strategy becomes a tool to measure progress on the initiative. The following tasks are among those most critical for reaching Y2K compliance.

Step One: Document Your Equipment
Survey company property, identifying and documenting equipment, computers and electronically controlled systems. Make a list of the equipment, recording the manufacturer, supplier, service contractor or any other firm which should have a detailed knowledge about the equipment and itsY2K compliance status. Note on the list any equipment where the manufacturer is not available or is unknown. Identify the person responsible, target date for completion and date completed in a Y2k compliance notebook.

Step Two: Verify Y2K Compliance of Equipment
Contact the equipment manufacturers, contractors or suppliers to verify the Y2K compliance status of the equipment. Obtain written documentation that the equipment is compliant. Identify the person responsible, target date for completion and date completed in a Y2k compliance notebook.

Step Three: Analyze Expected Loss Potentials
For equipment that is not compliant, analyze expected loss potentials arising from failure or improper operation of the equipment. Prioritize equipment according to seriousness of loss potential, and develop a schedule to bring the equipment into compliance. Identify the person responsible, target date for completion and date completed in a Y2k compliance notebook.

Step Four: Verify Y2K Compliance Equipment
Each company’s systems need to be compliant, and every outside business and vendor the company uses or works with must also be compliant. Investigate what business partners, clients and vendors are doing to face the problem. Synchronize compliance plans where feasible. Identify the person responsible, target date for completion and date completed in a Y2k compliance notebook.

Step Five: Contingency Planning
Develop and test a contingency plan to enable every critical business function to be performed manually in case the Y2K strategy proves inadequate. Identify the person responsible, target date for completion and date completed in a Y2k compliance notebook.

There are two basic options available to bring computers and computer controlled equipment in Y2K compliance status — renovation or replacement. Renovation involves upgrading or modifying computer code, a task best performed by a qualified consultant. Replacement is an option if renovation costs are prohibitive, or advantages can be gained through acquisition of newer, state-of-the-art equipment.

Compliance with Y2K demands a detailed Plan, good advice and hard work. Get started today! Make Y2K a non-event for your operation.

This information is for your guidance only. For in-depth analysis, contact your reliable information technology professional.

First Choice Products Inc. is voluntarily recalling about 194,200 power strip surge protectors because of fire, shock and electrocution hazards. For more information call 1-800-644-8277.

Take some time this winter to check your roof. Accumulated snowfall can lead to devastating roof collapses. Contact your EMC loss control professional for information on rooftop snow removal procedures.

As the heating season approaches, have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning appliances — including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers and space heaters — to detect deadly carbon monoxide leaks