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Snow and ice caused most workplace slips, trips, and falls in 7 years

SAIF received more than 400 claims after last month’s winter weather.

As a result of January’s winter weather, more Oregon workers were injured from slips, trips, and falls due to snow or ice than during any other storm since January 2017.

SAIF, Oregon’s not-for-profit workers’ compensation company, received 414 claims in January related to slips, trips, and falls from snow or ice. This included 151 in SAIF’s Northern region, which includes the Portland metropolitan area. It also includes 58 in SAIF’s valley region, including Salem—the highest number of these types of claims ever received in one quarter in the region.

“Significant ice and snow accumulation is uncommon in many parts of Oregon and it’s easy to forget some of the simple precautions you can take to prevent injury when the weather deteriorates,” said Kyle DeHart, senior safety management consultant in SAIF’s Portland office. “As soon as you see the potential for snow or ice in the forecast, consider talking with your employees about winter weather safety and ways they can prepare.”

Prepare for the next winter storm

While your memory is still fresh from the last storm, take precautions to prepare for future inclement weather:

  • Update your procedures: Allow staff to leave early or arrive late if conditions are expected to change. If feasible, allow some or all employees to work from home.
  • Create an inclement weather plan: Make sure it outlines who will be responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks, and pathways, and when those employees should safely arrive to begin those tasks if you open late.
  • Use ice cleats: If your employees work outside, have them use ice cleats—simple studded or spiked devices that attach to footwear—to help prevent slips.
  • Use floor mats at building entryways: Place a wiper or scraper/wiper combo floor mat (a heavy-duty mat designed to wipe and scrape debris and moisture off shoes) at building entryways. This is particularly important if the floor has a hard surface like tile, so workers' shoes don't leave wet footprints that could increase the risk of slips.

When it’s icy, walk like a penguin

When the ground might be slick, walk like a penguin, says Kyle DeHart:

  • Keep your hands by your side (and not in your pockets).
  • Slow down and take short steps.
  • Walk flat-footed.
  • Point your toes slightly to the sides.

Watch a demonstration on how to walk like a penguin here: Walk like a penguin (youtube.com).

Employers can find more tips for cold weather—including tips from some of our policyholders—at saif.com/cold.

About SAIF

SAIF is Oregon's not-for-profit, state-chartered workers' compensation insurance company. Since 1914 it has been caring for injured workers and helping to make workplaces safer. For more, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com.