Wearing Proper Footwear Can Prevent Slips and Falls
Helping 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 — in fact, they’re second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.
Major contributing factors causing weather-related slips and falls include:
- Inadequate removal of snow and salt
- Walking or running too fast for the conditions
- Improper footwear for winter walking conditions
Choosing the Right Shoe
Wearing the right shoe will go a long way in preventing a potential slip and fall.
- The outsole of the shoe is the area that’s in contact with the walking surface. If the sole’s properties and walking surface have a high enough coefficient of friction, good traction will be achieved between the two.
- 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.
- Soles carry both oily and slip-resistant properties, which are both important, especially if you encounter walking surfaces that may contain oils, greases or liquids.
- Some soles have flat surfaces, while others offer a tread design that can improve the traction between the walking surface and the sole, especially if the surface may be slippery.
- 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.
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. Accident Fund policyholders can log into our website for the full guide as well as a variety of additional safety tools and tips.