Slip, trip and fall incidents result in some of the most common workplace injuries. The risk of falling outdoors increases in the winter as temperatures drop and ice and snow accumulate across a wide swath of the country. Even though the days are getting longer, we have a lot of cold weather ahead. Consider the following reminders:
- Plan for the weather by wearing appropriate footwear – even if you’re only going across the parking lot and in to the building, wear a low heel boot or shoe with good tread made for outdoor winter weather. You can carry in high heels or leather soled shoes and put them on when indoors.
- Consider wearing a pair of ice cleats or other traction enhancement device such as Stabilicers, Yaktrax, ICETrekkers, or Winter-Tuff Ice Traction Spikes. These can be a lifesaver, but use with caution and follow manufacturer’s instructions to include removing before you walk indoors! Check out various models and features at Top10The Best. You can also access Pete Koch’s previous post entitled “What’s on Your Feet This Winter?” or Greg LaRochelle’s “A Whoops and a FOOSH: Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls.”
- When walking on ice and snow covered parking lots or walkways take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react appropriately to quick changes in traction.
- Always use handrails when walking up or down steps. Take your time, and plant your feet firmly on each step.
- Use caution when exiting or entering your vehicle – use the door handles and vehicle itself for support, as needed.
- Even if parking lots or walkways have been cleared of snow – beware – there still could be “black ice.” Water can refreeze and create a very slippery layer of ice that can be treacherous.
- Try not to carry too much when walking in inclement conditions – keep your hands and arms free to help maintain your balance, if needed.
- Once you get in your building safely, be sure to remove as much of the snow and water from your boots/shoes as possible. If you have dry shoes to change in to, do it as soon as you can safely sit in a chair, out of the way of other pedestrian traffic.
Feel free to share this information with fellow employees via safety postings or “toolbox talks”. Far too many people will end up slipping and falling this winter. These are preventable injuries when proper precautions are taken. Take a look at OSHA’s Winter Weather Preparation page for more tips on various winter hazards and precautions. Additional information on this and other employee safety topics can also be found within MEMIC’s Safety Director and Video Lending Library.