Slip and Fall Prevention - The S.A.F.E. Way (Part 4)

KochPosted by Peter Koch, WCP®

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Surface, Awareness, FOOTWEAR, Environment

“Never underestimate the power of a shoe.” Giuseppe Zanotti, Italian Fashion Designer

Shoes are your connection to the surface you work on and wearing the right ones can help prevent a slip and fall.  Consider shoes for their kind and condition - or what they are designed to do and how well have they been maintained.  A brand-new shoe that is not designed for the environment or surface can be as hazardous as one that is worn out or damaged.


The shoe should have a sole that is designed for the surfaces you will be walking on and provide support for your foot and ankle.  There are also protective properties that can be considered such as steel toes or puncture protection, but these features are not discussed here.    


The sole is in contact with the walking surface.  Consistent traction, or slip resistance, can be achieved if the sole material used and tread design create a high enough coefficient of friction with the surface. 


Flat leather or hard plastic-soled shoes offer low slip resistance and would be poor choices in snow, ice or hard, wet surfaces like tile or concrete.

Softer rubber, malleable plastic and natural fibers can have slip-resistant properties which are important on floors found in kitchens, maintenance shops or industrial areas that may be contaminated with oils, greases or liquids.


Soles with a deep wide tread pattern can improve traction by letting loose material such as gravel or snow push into the area between the tread and provide contact with the more stable surface below.

Some soles have a closely positioned pattern with deep groves.  This can push liquids up into the spaces and allow the treads to have contact with the surface below. 


Shoes with worn soles clearly will not perform as the manufacturer designed them.  It’s important to periodically inspect shoe tread and replace shoes when significant wear is noted.

Worn or deteriorated uppers provide little to no support for the ankle.  Ankle support can prevent a fall when someone starts to lose their balance. 

Here are some tips for shoe selection:

  • Evaluate the surface you are going to walk on and purchase shoes that are compatible.
    • Check for industry or environmental recommendations made by the shoe manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Choose a shoe that matches the environment you will be working in the most often.
  • If working outdoors in ice or snow consider using a traction enhancing device.
  • Changing shoes from indoors to outdoors takes only a few minutes and the safety improvement could be significant.

Click here for more tips on selecting the right shoe for your workplace and look for more information on Slip and Fall Prevention as we wrap up S.A.F.E. in the next Safety Net post on when we take on the Environment.

Get Schooled on Safety

CampbellPosted by Jennifer Campbell, WCP®

Schools are arguably the most important workplaces to ensure health and safety and can be the most challenging.  Schools need to track, prevent, and mitigate a wide range of incidents from cyberbullying to bomb threats.  They need to manage and properly store a variety of chemicals used for cleaning, art, science, and more.  They need to prevent and manage accidents and injuries to employees, students, and visitors.  They also must train their staff on a number of topics as diverse as Emergency Management, Nutritional Services, Security & Cyber Security, Social & Behavioral Issues, Special Education, Transportation, and more.

School staff, teachers, and administration deserve both tremendous respect and all the support they can get.  MEMIC takes our work with schools very seriously, so we have partnered with Scenario Learning, a leading developer of award-winning school safety and compliance training programs focused on schools. Every school we insure has free access to the SafeSchools Learning Management System.  MEMIC policyholders can find out more by registering for a February 8, 2018 SafeSchools webinar.  Contact Christine Collomy ([email protected]) with your organization name, MEMIC policy number, contact name, phone, and email address.

Policyholders can also watch a MEMIC Safety Director Webinar on Demand about the 10 most common accident exposures for school employees.  Many of these are common exposures for any workplace and you can find safety tips for them right here on the MEMIC Safety Net Blog:

Slip and Fall Prevention – The S.A.F.E. Way (Part 3)

KochPosted by Peter Koch, WCP®

Surface, AWARENESS, Footwear, Environment

“If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give… stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Essays, Letters and Miscellanies

Tolstoy’s advice from the early 1900’s is even more compelling today than it was at the beginning of the second industrial revolution.  There are many more demands for your attention both at work and at home.  These demands compete for your attention at an unprecedented rate resulting in overstimulation and lack of focus.   

The “A” in SAFE stands for Awareness.  Being aware of not just your surroundings but of your relationship to the surface conditions, the environment, and the footwear-surface interaction are critical for preventing slips and falls. 

Overall awareness is comprised of three components: 

  1. Perception: How accurate is the “picture” of the surroundings your senses created.
  2. Comprehension: Our understanding of what in that picture are threats, hazards, or assets.
  3. Decision to Action: What you are going to do with the information.

Your perception and comprehension are key to your decision.  In the examples below, the hazard remains the same, but either perception or comprehension changes to produce a different decision:

  • I can see the ice in my path; I could fall, I will choose a path that is better maintained.
    • Perception is good and comprehension of the hazard moves the decision to limit risk.
  • I can see the ice in my path; I’ve got good balance and I’ve not fallen before. I will travel over the ice but walk more slowly.
    • Perception is good, comprehension moves the decision to risk taking.
      • Successful navigation of the hazard will reinforce the comprehension and drive future decisions.
  • It’s dark, I can’t see any ice; I will keep going on my original path but walk more slowly.
    • Lack of perception causes risk taking, but comprehension leads to caution.

Adding a distraction such as a cell phone into the scenarios can change everything.  In the second or third example, distraction can cause you to forget the path has ice on it in the first place.  This can cause complacency in your gait and speed of travel.  In the first scenario, distraction might slow down reaction time enough to prevent a decision from happening until you engaged the hazard.

The list of distractions that prevent us from maintaining our awareness of our surroundings is almost limitless.  Some distractions are obvious such as cell phones, texting, heavy traffic, or crisis situations.  Some distractions can sneak up on you.  Cluttered work areas, changing work space configuration or use, dark areas, exhaustion, fatigue, or even eyesight changes are all examples.

Here are some tips to increase awareness and avoid distraction:

  1. Personal tips
    1. Email, text, and make calls when stationary.
    2. Keep work areas clear from slip/trip hazards.
    3. Focus on your travel not the destination.
    4. Change gait and speed when surfaces are known or expected to be slippery.
  2. Organization tips
    1. Provide adequate lighting for the employee walking surfaces.
    2. Use signage for temporary awareness of slippery areas. For example: Ice Alert.
    3. Require high visibility clothing for workers in traffic areas.
    4. Consider training for staff walking in areas with constant slip hazards. Check out the Slip Simulator video or website.

Look for more information on Slip and Fall Prevention in the next MEMIC Safety Blog on SAFE when we take on the “F” word - Footwear.