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Avoiding slips in winter

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Slips, trips and falls account for almost a third of non fatal injuries at work. In winter, many people slip on icy, snowy, muddy or wet ground, either at work, or elsewhere.

So what can an individual or business do to cut down on the risk of injury?

Here are just a few tips to help you:

  • Wear sturdy, ankle supporting boots with good grip, or other slip-resistant footwear. In some parts of the country, there is an "old wives tale" to put a pair of socks over your shoes when walking on icy ground. The larger surface area allegedly allows for more grip, via the individual strands of material. How true this is, I do not know, but in some parts of the country it is passed down the generations.

  • Use special care when getting in and out of vehicles. Use the vehicle for support if you need to do so.

  • Watch for slippery floors when you enter any building or home, especially in wet weather. Businesses should always put an anti-slip mat near main doors. If someone slips on your floor, it could be a costly experience for you. The HSE (page 13 of this document) often cite the example of Alison... “I worked as a technical instructor in a large hospital. In the autumn of 1986 I was entering the main hospital whilst taking post to the sorting office when I slipped on decomposing leaves ... In 1992 I slipped again, this time on an unmarked wet floor ... I slipped and fell directly onto my right ankle, I was assisted to a chair and it was evident that the ankle was broken, it was also very contorted. I was taken into the hospital and placed in plaster for 6 weeks; however, the plaster was taken off after 3 weeks, as the foot remained contorted. Over the next few years I faced some 32 operations to try to save the foot, eventually, I was told that I had dystonia caused by the accident and amputation was the only solution as my toes had by now lost their feeling and were turning black. I had my leg amputated on 30th May 1997."

  • Try to avoid carrying items, or walking with your hands in your pockets; this can reduce your ability to catch yourself if you lose your balance. Instead, carry a backpack if you have one.

  • Walk as flat-footed as possible in very icy areas, and take short slow steps.

  • Avoid uneven surfaces if possible. Avoid steps or curbs with ice on them.

  • Make sure your business has an ice and snow removal policy, and that it is removed as quickly as possible, whenever it is needed.

KSH Safety Services offer an e-learning course, approved by the IIRSM, for those within businesses who are trying to reduce slip injuries.

The course will introduce you to some of the statistics relating to slips, trips and falls and dispel some of the myths surrounding them. It also touches on the law as it relates to slips, trips and falls. It contains real examples of where things have gone wrong and some practical steps that could have been taken to prevent these incidents.

It also covers some of the straightforward changes that can be made in most businesses to significantly reduce the risk of a slip, trip or fall incident occurring. The final module takes this to the next level and looks at it from a management perspective.

To get a free trial or to buy a license for this course (£35+VAT per license), click here. Our courses are owned by VideoTile Learning Ltd and are distributed under licence.

For further advice and support on reducing slip injuries in your workplace, contact us today.

The above article forms part of our year long campaign on The Four Seasons of Health and Safety.


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