Winter weather brings with it an often overlooked and underestimated hazard to the work place; the potential for slips and falls. If you’re lucky, you might end up with only a bruise. However, the injuries from falling on ice are often more severe. With some planning and communication, slips and falls due to the inclement weather can be greatly reduced, or eliminated altogether.
- Have a plan for ensuring walkways are shoveled and covered in salt as soon as possible. Place shovels and salt at each exit for everyone to use as needed.
- Ensure rugs are in place at each doorway and thoroughly wipe your feet prior to stepping on a smooth surface.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Winter boots or over shoes designed for the cold wintery weather will significantly reduce the risk of falls.
- Take smaller steps to keep your feet under you for balance.
- If you are on ice, slide your feet and keep your feet flat.
- Keep both hands free, out of pockets, to help keep your balance.
- Place your full attention on walking and avoid distractions such as searching for your keys, talking on your cell phone, texting or emailing.
- Extra precaution should be used in the evening when melted snow starts to refreeze. You may even wish to post temperature-sensitive ice alert signs at all exits to warn employees of freezing conditions.
- Maintain 3-point contact while entering and exiting your vehicle. Having 3-points of contact allows you to stabilize yourself should you start to fall. Additionally, it is always a good idea to test the surface before you step out of your vehicle.
- If you happen to fall, try rolling with the fall and avoid catching yourself with your arms and hands. It’s a natural reaction to try to catch oneself, but often times this will result in a sprained wrist, broken bones and even a torn rotator cuff.
Having a preparedness plan to maintain drives and walkways as clear as possible, in conjunction with these tips, will assist keeping you walking upright and injury-free this winter season!