Winter walking: Tips to avoid slip and fall injuries

December 12, 2013  


Each winter Purdue employees experience slips and falls due to snowy and icy conditions. Some injuries may be severe and have a long-term physical impact on the employee. Broken hips, broken arms, and injuries to backs or heads are among the most common winter slip and fall injuries. 

During the 2013 calendar year, falls due to snow or ice resulted in 59 injuries. These injuries alone have cost Purdue at least $96,000 this year. About one in five injuries at Purdue is a slip, trip or fall.

Despite the best efforts of the Grounds Department and Physical Facilities personnel, hazardous conditions are likely to exist from abrupt changes in Indiana winter weather. Radiological and Environmental Management would like to remind faculty and staff to walk safely as they venture out this winter. 

* Wear appropriate footwear to increase traction on ice and snow. Smooth leather soles and high heels offer little traction on ice and snow and should not be worn. 

* Special over-the shoe-ice cleats can be purchased for as low as $10 at local hardware stores or online. Remember to take them off when inside since they can damage floors or even be more slippery on tile or terrazzo.

* Walk on surfaces that have been cleared or treated if possible. Avoid taking shortcuts.

* Take advantage of tunnels and elevators and walk through buildings even if it takes a little longer.

* Slow down and take shorter steps so you can react to a change in traction more easily.

* Avoid carrying heavy or awkward loads; use shoulder straps on bags and backpacks to keep your hands free for balance and to use handrails when walking on stairs.

* Wear gloves to keep your hands warm and out of your pockets for balance.

A two-minute video created by Wyoming Workforce Services shows some of these winter walking techniques: www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0owgay_bQs.

For more information, visit the REM website at www.purdue.edu/rem/injury/stf.htm or contact REM at 49-6371 or embutt@purdue.edu.

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