ZONE Talks B Avoiding winter slips and falls

ZONE Talks B Avoiding winter slips and falls
Talks ZONE
Safety Talks
direct to your
Avoiding winter slips and falls
ruises, broken limbs, cracked ribs,
serious back or head injuries, and
sometimes death — any of these
can happen when a worker slips
or trips and falls. The risk is even greater
during winter, which should come as no
surprise, yet many people don't take it as
seriously as they should.
Although winter conditions are a fact of
life in much of North America, people often
get caught off-guard when conditions turn
frigid. They don't dress properly, they walk
too quickly on slippery surfaces and they
carry objects that are too large or heavy,
obstructing their view and affecting their
Preventing personal injury means
monitoring the weather, being on the
lookout for hazardous conditions and taking
precautions that are simple, but necessary.
Hazards include:
• Snowy and ice-covered sidewalks, paths
and parking lots.
• Black ice (a thin, nearly invisible coating
of ice on paved surfaces caused when
temperatures rise above freezing during
the day and drop below freezing at
• Obstructed sidewalks and roadways.
• Certain types of footwear, such as high
heels and leather-soled shoes.
• A hat or scarf that blocks your view or
makes it difficult to hear traffic.
What you wear should not only keep you
warm and dry, it must also help make you a
'defensive walker.' It is much easier to stay
on your feet when they are inside shoes or
boots that have a non-slip, thick rubber sole
and a wide, low heel in addition to being
well-insulated and waterproof.
Ice grippers on footwear can help you
walk on hard-packed snow and ice, but
grippers can become dangerously slippery
and must be removed before walking on
smooth surfaces such as stone, tile and
Here are some defensive walking tips:
• Give yourself sufficient time and plan
your route.
• Walk in designated walkways as much
as possible. Don’t take shortcuts or go
over snow banks.
• Take smaller steps and walk slowly.
• Bend slightly, walk flat-footed with your
center of gravity directly over the feet as
much as possible.
• Keep both hands free for balance rather
than in your pockets.
• Use handrails from start to finish.
• Keep your eyes on where you are going.
• Be prepared to fall, and if you do, fall
with sequential contacts at your thigh,
hip and shoulder to avoid using your
arms to protect against breakage. Roll
with the fall. Try to twist and roll
backwards, rather than falling forward.
• If you are carrying a load, toss it.
Protecting yourself is more important
than trying to hang onto it.
When you arrive at work, it may be
advisable to check overhead for ice hazards
(building roofs, electric lines, etc.) Be
especially cautious around
building entrances, loading
docks, curbs and other areas
where ice can form.
Wipe your feet before entering a building and before
climbing steps. Cold boots or
footwear with snow or ice
caught on the soles can
become quite slippery in a
warm building.
Good housekeeping is a
year-round requirement.
Unless custodial personnel
are available to do it, help
keep walking surfaces clear of debris, ice
and slippery materials. If sand, salt or other
materials are on hand to reduce the number
of icy spots, use them.
Special care is required when exiting
vehicles and equipment — don't jump from
them. Look down at the surface. If it’s
coated with ice you might want to park in a
different place.
Some additional safe procedures:
• Use the vehicle for support. Where
practicable, brace yourself with the door
and seat back before standing.
• When climbing in or out of a vehicle,
face it whenever practical, and always
use the three-point contact rule (either
one hand and two feet in contact with
the vehicle, or two hands and one foot).
• Use the access steps, footholds,
handholds and rails provided on the
vehicle to support you.
All slip, trip and fall hazards that you
cannot deal with promptly should be
reported to your supervisor. If your
immediate supervisor is not available,
report the hazard to the next level of
supervision. Do not wait for someone else
to do it.
The material contained in this document has been prepared from sources believed to be accurate and reliable. Application of this
information to a specific worksite should be reviewed by a safety professional. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein
does so at their own risk and assumes any and all liability arising therefrom. Specific medical advice should be obtained through
consultation with a physician or other trained health care practitioner.
The Quiz
These questions are meant to help you remember what was discussed
today — not to test your patience or challenge your intelligence. The
answers are at the bottom of the page. Cover them up, and complete the
quiz as quickly as you can.
1. Workers face a greater risk of slips and falls during winter.
TRUE ____ FALSE ____
2. Does preventing slips and falls require complicated precautions?
YES ____ NO ____
3. Which of these are typical winter slip and fall hazards:
A. Snowy and ice-covered sidewalks.
B. Oil spills.
C. Improper footwear.
D. Black ice.
E. All of the above
4. Footwear with thick leather soles and narrow heels is advisable
when walking on snow and ice.
TRUE ____ FALSE ____
5. Which of these are ‘defensive walking’ measures:
A. Take short, slow steps.
B. Keep both hands out of your pockets.
C. Bend slightly, with your center of gravity over your feet.
D. Use handrails from start to finish.
E. All of the above.
6. Ice grippers help you walk on smooth surfaces such as stone or tile.
TRUE ____ FALSE ____
7. Which of these things should you try to do if you start to fall:
A. Roll with the fall, making contact with thigh, hip and shoulder
to avoid using an arm and possibly breaking it.
B. Try to fall backward, rather than forward.
C. If you are carrying something, hang onto it tightly.
D. All of the above.
8. Does your workplace have an employee or employees responsible
for identifying and dealing with slip and fall hazards?
YES ____ NO ____ DON’T KNOW____
ANSWERS: 1. True, 2. No, 3. A., B. and D., 4. False, 5. E., 6. False, 7. A. and B.,
8. Your answer
Talks Zone — Inbox Safety Talks is published by Skilven Publications Inc. All rights reserved © 2014. This Safety Talk is licensed to ONE
supervisor and may be copied for use within his/her department only. No part of this
publication is to be distributed without first obtaining the correct software license or
written permission from the Publisher. Site licenses are available on request.
Hold These Thoughts
Ensuring your winter boots fit
properly while providing the
appropriate support you require is
critical to having feet that are both
warm and comfortable.
A boot that is too tight or short
may lead to cold feet. When
consulting a footwear expert, don’t
be surprised if you end up being fit
in a winter boot in a half size bigger
than your regular footwear. The
larger size allows for a layer of
warm air to surround your foot
inside the boot, keeping you
Be sure to try on boots with the
same thickness of sock you plan to
wear in them. Ideally, the socks
should be made of a moisture
wicking material like polypropylene,
acrylic or wool that creates a dry
layer against your skin. Cotton
socks should be avoided as they
hold moisture against the skin — a
recipe for cold feet and potential
Some key features to consider:
• Removable insoles allow you to
properly remove and dry insoles
between uses or remove completely to accommodate a custom-made
• Rubber soles provide secure
traction and stability in cold temperatures to help prevent slips or falls.
A lower heel and wider outsole provide the broadest base of support.
• Laces provide the most
adjustability and support in boots
for walking and overall comfort.
Velcro straps offer moderate
support and pull-on styles offer
much less.
• Firm heel counter provides
ankle and heel support to help
prevent foot and leg fatigue, as
well as an added sense of security
and confidence while walking.
• Choose boots that have been
treated to be waterproof or ideally,
styles that have a waterproof
breathable membrane such as
Gore-Tex that allows your feet to
breathe while keeping moisture
For the Record
Date of Meeting: _________________________
Location: _______________________________
Start Time: ______ Finish Time: ______
Topic: ______________________________
Meeting Leader: _____________________
In Attendance:
It really happened...
Statistics show that a majority of workplace falls
happen because of a slip or trip on the same level. Falls
from heights, while less frequent, can be a lot more
devastating. The risk can rise as temperatures drop.
In one recent incident, workers were installing a
bracket system on the roof of a four-storey building.
They had postponed working on it so the sun could melt
some of the heavy frost that had developed overnight
on the plywood sheathing. After the fall protection lifeline
system was installed and inspected, the workers tied off
to the lifeline and started working on the roof.
One of the workers unhooked his lanyard from the
lifeline while moving the metal bars for the bracket system. He found two of the 10-foot (three-meter) bars that
were frozen together and struck them on the roof to
break them apart. One of the bars started to slide
towards the roof edge. As the worker reached to grab it,
he slipped on frost, sliding 22 feet (6.5 meters) down the
roof before falling 53 feet (16 meters) to the ground
below. He died from severe injuries.
Aside from the need to ensure that personal fall
protection equipment is used properly at all times, this
tragedy underscores the value of taking special
precautions when working on icy or wet roof surfaces.
When there is overnight frost, consider covering roof
work areas with tarps at the end of the workday. The
frosty tarps can then be removed before work begins
the next morning.
Note: TalksZone safety meetings are not intended to take the place of your own safety procedures.
Always consult and/or review your procedures before attempting any work.
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