January 17, 2019

Winter walking: Tips to avoid slip and fall injuries

Purdue employees experience slips and falls due to snowy and icy conditions every winter. Some injuries are severe and have a long-term physical effect on the employee. Broken hips, broken arms and injuries to backs or heads are among the most serious. 

As winter weather is upon us, Radiological and Environmental Management reminds everyone to walk safely and take some simple precautions inside and outside to reduce the chance of injury:

* Wear appropriate footwear to increase traction, or wear over-the-shoe ice cleats. Smooth soles and high heels offer little traction on ice and snow and should not be worn. Remember to remove ice cleats indoors to avoid slipping on tile and terrazzo. 

* Avoid carrying heavy or awkward loads; use shoulder straps on bags and backpacks, and wear gloves to keep your hands warm and free for balance.

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

* Plan your route, and walk only on cleared and treated surfaces. Use pedestrian walkways and subwalks and walk through buildings whenever possible; use caution transitioning from outside to inside as surfaces may be wet or slippery.

* Use handrails when walking up and down stairs or take the elevator. Falls on stairs often lead to severe injuries, especially when slippery conditions are present.

* Call the Grounds department at 765-494-3087 to report unsafe surface conditions inside or outside of buildings. Don’t assume someone else already has called in the hazard.

In order to facilitate immediate action on snowy or icy conditions directly outside building entrances, individuals may use the self-serve ice melt buckets located near doors in some facilities across campus. Contact occupational safety specialist Dave Petros at petros@purdue.edu for more information about this pilot project.

To spread awareness, REM offers a winter walking safety infographic that is best printed on 11”x17” paper for posting on employee resource bulletin boards. Additionally, an informative two-minute video created by Wyoming Workforce Services demonstrates some of these winter walking techniques.

For more information, contact REM at 765-494-6371 or send email to Eric Butt, REM assistant director, at embutt@purdue.edu.

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