Avoid winter slips and falls: Watch for changing conditions

As we move through the coldest months of the year, many of us begin to long for the warmth of spring. And while there certainly is a light at the end of the long, snowy tunnel, it’s important not to get too ahead of ourselves.

Slips and falls caused by snow and ice are the number one source of workplace injuries in the Midwest, and these injuries continue to happen during changes in season. The weather can cycle from thawing to re-freezing in the course of a day. Often, warm afternoon sun will melt snow and ice, but temperatures dropping overnight can cause it to re-freeze and may also bring fresh snow.

It’s important that employers not allow the gradually rising temperatures to make them complacent. Remind your clients to watch for changing conditions and keep the following in mind:

  • Fresh snow can hide dangers such as ice or uneven sidewalks.
  • Adjust for conditions. Allow more time to complete tasks or travel. Just because the weather is nice when you leave doesn’t mean it will remain that way.
  • Don’t be distracted. Don’t count on warm weather to have melted away all the snow and ice.

The same safety guidelines apply during transitional months as during the heart of winter. Follow these recommendations to prevent slips and falls:

  • Walk like a penguin
    Focus on your footing. Take short, slow, flat-footed steps.
  • Carry only what you can
    Use a bag or backpack to keep your hands free.
  • Wear sensible footwear
    Wear shoes with a low, wide heel, deep treads and a non-slip sole.
  • Step down, not out from cars and curbs
    When getting out of a car, swing both legs out and place feet on the ground while holding onto the door frame or steering wheel. When stepping down from a curb, shorten your stride and step flat-footed off the curb.
  • Avoid shortcuts
    Use designated walkways and surfaces that have been cleared of snow and ice.

SFM offers free winter safety materials in our resource catalog on sfmic.com. Your clients can order or download posters, handouts and more to help remind their employees to watch out for changing conditions, as well as other winter safety topics.

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