Wearing Proper Footwear Can Prevent Slips and Falls

boot-treadHelping employees choose the right winter footwear is an important part of preventing slip and fall accidents on the job. Important factors to keep in mind when it comes to footwear include comfort, thermal protection, slip resistance, usability and cost. Because of the unpredictable and often treacherous conditions that can arise from winter weather, footwear should provide as much stability as possible to avoid slips and falls.

Though the prevention of slips and falls is of particular importance for workers who do jobs outside, it’s critical to remember that slips and falls can take place anywhere and at any time, including in parking lots as employees travel to and from buildings. According to OSHA, slips, trips and falls constitute the majority of workplace accidents. They cause many types of debilitating injuries and time away from work. They’re also responsible for 15% of all accidental deaths — second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.

Wearing the right shoe will go a long way in preventing a potential slip and fall.

  • Choose shoes or boots with good treads. Water resistant shoes are a good choice when there is snow on the ground.
  • The depth and spread of the treads are important since too closely-patterned treads or treads with minimal depth will not allow liquids to be dispersed from the tread pattern and may create a potential hydroplaning effect between the sole and the walking surface.
  • It’s important to periodically inspect shoe tread for wear and replace shoes when significant wear is noted.
  • Flat leather or plastic-soled shoes offer minimal slip resistance between the shoe and the walking surface; therefore, both would be poor choices in snow or ice.

When walking over ice and snow remember to:

  • Choose the right type of footwear for winter walking conditions.
  • Look for slip hazards and scan the path of travel.
  • Maintain a focus on the slip and fall exposures when walking.
  • Take shorter, slower steps, keeping the feet shoulder-width apart.

By utilizing Accident Fund’s WorkSafe tools, such as our S.A.F.E.: Footwear Guidebook, you’ll be well prepared for walking safely in winter weather. Visit our S.A.F.E. site today for more helpful safety information.