Winter walking: Tips to avoid slip and fall injuries

January 13, 2015  

Radiological and Environmental Management continues to urge employees to walk safely as they venture out this winter. 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. 

In 2014:

* 126 injuries were a direct result of falls due to ice or snow.
* Thirty percent of all injuries at Purdue were due to a slip, trip or fall.

Although Physical Facilities prepares for and responds to weather conditions on an ongoing basis, hazardous conditions are likely to exist from abrupt changes in weather and the persistence of winter this year. Use these tips to minimize your chances of slipping and falling:

* 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 across areas that have not been cleared.

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

* Building entries and parking garage stairs can be wet or icy. Use handrails when walking up and down stairs, and keep at least one hand free for balance.

* 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:

To report unsafe surface conditions, call the Grounds Department at 49-43087. For more information on preventing slips and falls, visit the Radiological and Environmental Management website at, or contact REM at 49-46371 or

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