Be ready when winter arrives …freezing temperatures, snowstorms, icy roads, and slippery sidewalks – all of which present a slip, trip and fall hazard. Most of us don’t consider walking—something we do nearly every day of our lives—to be hazardous. Yet, that simple act results in a significant number of slip, trip and fall injuries in the workplace each year.
The good news is that many slip, trip and fall injuries are preventable. Individually and collectively, much can be done to reduce the frequency and severity of these accidents.
It is important for employees to recognize the hazards of slippery walks and parking lots. There are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of falling when slippery conditions exist. Here are some helpful hints.
- In cold temperatures, approach with caution and assume that all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy. Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement.
- Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous. Look ahead when you walk; a snow- or ice-covered sidewalk or driveway, especially if on a hill, may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
Ø If you must walk in the street, walk against the flow of traffic, as close to the curb as you can.
Ø Taking shortcuts through areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous. Try to avoid straying from the beaten path.
- Point your feet out slightly like a penguin! (see picture) Spreading your feet out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity.
- Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over the feet as much as possible.
- Extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Beware if you are carrying a heavy backpack or other load—your sense of balance will be off.
Ø If you must carry a load, try not to carry too much; leave your hands and arms free to balance yourself.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets. Hands in your pockets while walking decreases your center of gravity and balance. You can help break your fall with your hands free if you do start to slip.
- Watch where you are stepping and GO S-L-O-W-L-Y !! This will help your reaction time to changes in traction.
- When walking on steps always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
- Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles; use the vehicle for support.
- Take short steps or shuffle for stability. It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum
Safety and Industrial Hygiene AdministratorRisk Management
/ Safety Unit
Resource(s) –National Safety Council
Have a work related safety concern, comment, idea? Contact your department/agency safety representative or email Buzzonsafety@denvergov.org.