Loss Control Insights for Schools

Surprising Parking Lot Hazards

parking lot hazard sign

It only takes a second. A teacher walks from the school parking lot to the classroom, and fails to see the ice on the ground. In the time it takes to blink, they slip and fall and become permanently disabled. Unfortunately this isn’t just an anecdote. Accidents like this happen every winter.

Slips and falls are one of the main causes of injury in schools. People often overlook parking lots as a culprit, but there are a number of surprising outdoor slip and fall hazards that all schools should be addressing.

Cracked, Uneven Pavement and Potholes
Potholes in concrete not only create tripping hazards, but also collect water, which can refreeze and lead to a slip and fall accident. Repair potholes as soon as you can or fill them in with gravel as a temporary solution. Cracked or uneven pavement should also be repaired quickly. Provide warning markings or cones until the repairs are made.

Inadequate Lighting
Insufficient lighting in your parking lots can mask slip and fall hazards, such as those potholes you haven’t fixed yet. For teachers or staff arriving early in the morning or leaving after dark, it’s important to ensure the parking lot is well lit so they are able to spot potential hazards.

Damaged Wheel Stops
Cracked, crumbling or misaligned wheel stops can cause a slip, trip or fall because it’s easy for someone to overlook them. In fact, a wheel stop located in a handicap access area recently resulted in a fatality. Mark all tire stops with brightly-colored paint and make sure they are in the correct location and in good condition.

Poorly Cleared Parking Lots
In the winter months, it’s crucial to remove snow and ice from your parking lots as soon as possible. Forty percent of all slip and falls occur on snowy and icy surfaces. Inadequately cleared parking lots could result in a slip or fall. Clear parking lots and sidewalks before employees arrive for work and monitor them throughout the day during inclement weather. Place shovels and ice melt near doorways to facilitate snow and ice removal during the day.

Black Ice
When daytime temperatures reach the 40s and 50s, layers of ice will form when melted snow refreezes after sundown. When removing snow, pile it in a way that prevents melting into walkways and parking lots. Applying coarse sand or oil absorbent to wet areas can also help.

Wearing the Wrong Shoes
Your shoes may not seem like a hazard, but wearing improper footwear, especially in the winter months, can cause problems. Poor footwear such as high-heels or shoes with worn soles don’t provide adequate traction. School employees should wear flat, slip-resistant footwear with good rubber-soles. Faculty members who want to wear high-heels can always change shoes once inside. Consider providing removable ice cleats for staff member who may spend a lot of time outside in the winter.

Don’t Forget Inspections
Slip and fall hazards can go unnoticed for months if you aren’t inspecting your parking lots often. Routinely have someone walk around the parking lot looking for hazards, and encourage faculty and staff to report issues they see.

For more information on slip and fall prevention, check out the resources on the slip and fall topic page on the EMC loss control website.