Extremely cold weather is an unavoidable reality in Minnesota. If you do some of your work outside, you know that extra safety precautions must be taken during the winter months. Even if you work in an office or retail establishment, though, you could slip while walking to and from work.
Many Winter falls occur in parking lots
Data shows that 25% of workplace slip-and-fall accidents involving ice and snow occur in parking lots. That means that nearly all workers, regardless of their occupation, will be at risk of falling on their way to work this winter. Among these parking lot falls, 20% result in lost working days. The average time it takes Minnesota workers to recover after a winter slip-and-fall accident is six days.
How to walk safely on ice and snow
It sounds funny, but we can learn a lot about walking safely on ice and snow by watching how penguins do it. Penguins walk slowly and take short, flat-footed steps to get to their destination. Since we have longer legs than penguins, we have to do the “penguin walk” deliberately to stay safe. Here are some other important ways you can avoid a workplace accident claim this winter:
• Do not use your smartphone while walking.
• Walk on cleared paths instead of taking shortcuts.
• Step down instead of out when exiting your vehicle or stepping off a curb.
• Wear shoes with thick tread and avoid high heels.
• Avoid carrying large loads over ice.
• Don’t be in a rush, even if you’re late to work.
Employers have an obligation to mitigate winter hazards
Your employer should be aware of the risk of slip-and-fall accidents in winter. Walkways should be cleared of snow, and salt should be spread in parking lots to melt ice. If you notice that winter conditions aren’t being properly dealt with, you should alert your supervisor about the hazards.