WalkSafe Highlights Importance of Footwear and Housekeeping

According to OSHA, slips, trips and falls constitute the majority of workplace accidents. They cause many types of debilitating injuries and time away from work. They’re also responsible for 15% of all accidental deaths — in fact, they’re second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. Though the prevention of slips and falls is of particular importance for workers who do jobs outside, it’s critical to remember that slips and falls can take place anywhere and at any time, including in parking lots as employees travel to and from buildings. This is why both proper footwear and rigorous housekeeping practices are so important, especially in the winter months.

Wearing Proper Footwear

Helping employees choose the right winter footwear is an important part of preventing slip and fall accidents on the job. Important factors to keep in mind when it comes to footwear include comfort, thermal protection, slip resistance, usability and cost. Because of the unpredictable and often treacherous conditions that can arise from winter weather, footwear should provide as much stability as possible to avoid slips and falls.

Wearing the right shoe will go a long way in preventing a potential slip and fall. The outsole of the shoe is the area that’s in contact with the walking surface. If the sole’s properties and walking surface have a high enough coefficient of friction, good traction will be achieved between the two. Flat leather or plastic-soled shoes offer minimal slip resistance between the shoe and the walking surface; therefore, both would be poor choices in snow or ice.

Some soles have flat surfaces, while others offer a tread design that can improve the traction between the walking surface and the sole, especially if the surface may be slippery. The depth and spread of the treads are important since too closely-patterned treads or treads with minimal depth will not allow liquids to be dispersed from the tread pattern and may create a potential hydroplaning effect between the sole and the walking surface. It’s important to periodically inspect shoe tread for wear and replace shoes when significant wear is noted.

When walking over ice and snow remember to:

  • Choose the right type of footwear for winter walking conditions.
  • Look for slip hazards and scan the path of travel.
  • Maintain a focus on the slip and fall exposures when walking.
  • Take shorter, slower steps, keeping the feet shoulder-width apart.

General Housekeeping — Keeping Your Workplace Safe

Good housekeeping practices play a critical role in minimizing workplace illnesses and injuries. By implementing an effective housekeeping program, you can establish a clean-up schedule or policy, plan regular inspections, and continuously supervise and enforce housekeeping rules.

Housekeeping is not just cleanliness. It includes keeping work areas neat and orderly; maintaining halls, walkways and aisles, and keeping floors free of slip and trip hazards; and removing waste materials and other fire hazards from work areas.

Several elements are necessary for maintaining an effective housekeeping program. Here are the basics:

  • Remove dust and dirt often
  • Clean employee facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms
  • Maintain floors, hallways and stairways in good order
  • Maintain safe and clear entrance ways and parking lots
  • Label and organize housekeeping tools, equipment and cleaning products
  • Regularly dispose of waste
  • Conduct proper building maintenance

You can find out more detailed information on both of these topics by visiting United Heartland’s WalkSafe campaign online. By utilizing the tools and information we’ve made available, you’ll be well-prepared for winter weather.