Watch Your Step! 8 Handy Tips to Prevent Winter Slips and Falls
Follow these precautions when walking across slippery driveways, walkways, and parking lots.
Slip, trip, and fall incidents result in some of the most common workplace injuries. And it doesn't take a safety expert to know that the risk of falling outdoors increases in the winter as temperatures drop. Even a little ice and snow can drastically reduce traction and turn an ordinary parking lot or driveway into a serious safety hazard.
Simple Tips for Staying Upright
We all have the same goal when walking across a snowy or icy surface: stay upright!
The slip and fall risks are evident and losing our balance even a little is enough to make us catch our breath. But when we're in a hurry or distracted, it's easy to forget all the small things we can do to be a little more careful on slippery surfaces.
With that in mind, here are eight tips to stay safe this winter.
1. Get the Right Footwear
Plan ahead and buy footwear that is seasonally appropriate. It's true that heavy winter boots aren't always the most fashionable items – but then again neither is a cast or a neck brace.
Make sure the sole has good treads and stick to a low heel for the season. You can always carry in your preferred indoor shoes and put them on once you're safely inside.
(Learn more in Winter Footwear: Making the Transition to Keep Your Feet Warm)
2. Walk Like a Penguin
Taking long, fast strides across an ice-covered parking lot is one of the best ways to become closely acquainted with the ground. Instead, take short steps and walk at a slower pace, just like a penguin. Not only will it help you keep your balance, it will also allow you to notice quick changes in traction and react appropriately.
3. Use Handrails
For some reason, we're sometimes reluctant to make our lives easier by using the tools around us, even when they're at arm's reach. That's true for handrails. After a summer of bounding up the steps without giving it a second thought, it doesn't always occur to us to grab hold of the rail when the steps are frozen over.
But remember, the handrail is extra precaution. That means you still have to walk up and down the stairs carefully, taking your time and planting your feet firmly on each step.
4. Step Out Safely
Use caution when exiting and entering your vehicle. Stepping out of the vehicle can mean hitting the ground at an awkward angle, and getting to our vehicle can make us put our guard down. So step in and out carefully, and even grab onto the door handle or the vehicle itself for extra support.
5. Watch Out for Black Ice
So you drove to work in the morning and find that the parking lot is free of snow. Before you jump out of the car and waltz carelessly to the building, remember that you might come across the dreaded black ice.
After water snow or ice melts, it can refreeze into black ice, a thin, slippery layer of ice that is difficult to see but easy to fall on.
(Learn more in Winter Driving Safety Tips)
6. Don't Overload Yourself
Need to carry something to or from your car? Now's not the time to be a hero and load yourself up with as much as you can carry so that you can bring it all in one trip. And we can guarantee that no one will be impressed with your efficiency if you – and everything you're carrying – falls to the ground.
Only take what you can comfortably carry without obstructing your view. Try to keep at least one arm and hand free; you'll be amazed at how much easier it will be to maintain your balance.
7. Don't Create a Hazard Indoors
Slip and fall safety doesn't end once you walk into the door. Make sure you remove as much snow and water from your boots or shoes as possible. If you have dry shoes to change into, do it as soon as you can do so safely (standing in everyone's way is ill-advised). Otherwise, you could leave a wet prints or snowy, slushy patches for others to slip on.
8. If It's Dangerous to Walk On, It's Dangerous to Drive On
The slippery surface you have to walk across is likely to be similar to the surface you have to drive on. Take your time – extra, if you need to – and remember that the speed limit is just that: a limit. Drive below it if you need to.
And remember that the road is slippery for everyone else, too. Give yourself enough distance from other vehicles, in case they have difficulty braking.
Watch Your Step!
Winter means holidays and seasonal treats, but also slippery surfaces. Take extra care throughout the season to make sure that you make it to spring without injury.
More from AD Safety Network
- When should you consider using custom molded earplugs?
- At what height do falls become deadly?
- Who should be responsible for rescuing fallen workers?
- What kind of training do loading dock workers need?
- How often should I inspect a loading dock?
- How is wind chill calculated?
- What is the difference between occupational safety and process safety?
- Why should rubber insulating gloves be tested?
- What happens if I tie off at the foot level with a personal SRL?
- Why is testing with a NAIL4PET accredited lab important?
- What kind of face protection do I need when using a chainsaw?
- What is the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica?
- What is silica and why is it hazardous?
- Video Q&A - What is a safety policy?
- What kind of fire extinguisher is best for your work site?
- How do I choose the right respirator and mask for working with silica?
- Can I wear fall protection equipment over my rainwear or winter gear?
- When do I need a cage ladder?
- What types of gloves protect your hands from hazardous chemicals?
- How come I still got hurt while wearing flame-resistant clothing?
- How do I win over my most reluctant employees?
- What kinds of jobs should use disposable safety gloves?
- Is it true that safety shouldn't be a top priority?
- When are employers allowed to conduct drug and alcohol tests on their employees?
- How can I get employees more involved in the risk assessment plan?
- What are some of the indirect costs of workplace accidents?
- How often do fire extinguishers need to be inspected?
- What is the best way to store rubber safety gloves?
- How much voltage protection is needed for safety gloves used in electrical work?
- What is the difference between a safety valve and a release valve?
- When do workers have the right to refuse to work?
- What is the most overlooked item when designing Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures?
- What are some of the misconceptions about heat stress and what should we do to address them?
- What tools should I tether when working at heights?
- What types of gas should I watch out for when working in a confined space?
- How do you create a culture of safety in your workplace?
- What is the difference between industrial safety and industrial hygiene?
- Is it important to get PPE assessments by trained professionals?
- What is a fault tree analysis?
- What kind of respirator cartridge should I use?
- What are the safety benefits of a whistleblower program?
- What type of safety record-keeping and recording should we be doing?
- What makes a hi-vis safety vest ANSI compliant?
- Why is it important to have air sampling done to determine my PELs?
- What is the life expectancy of fall protection equipment?
- What are some basic fall protection rules that each of my workers need to understand?
- How much clearance do I need to safely use a Leading Edge SRL?
- What is the difference between an acute hazard and a chronic hazard?
- What’s the difference between a bump test, a calibration check, and a full calibration?
- Is there any legislation regulating lone worker safety I should know about before hiring?
- What kind of fire extinguisher and accessories should be kept on hand on a factory floor?
- What can companies do to reduce their lost time injury frequency rates?
- Video Q&A - What's your safety network like?
- Video Q&A - What are the 3 levels of safety?
- Video Q&A - How do you treat a near miss?
- Does body weight affect falls differently?
- What ages are most affected by falls?
- Why do workers take risks?
- What Is the Difference Between OHSAS 18001 and 18002?
- What is the difference between lost time injury and medical treatment case?
- What is the difference between occupational health and safety and workplace health and safety?
- What is the difference between occupational health and occupational safety?
- What is the difference between a lost time injury and a disabling injury?