Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls in Cold Weather

It’s officially winter and that means we are experiencing cold, hazardous weather conditions.

All it takes is a momentary lapse of attention, perhaps thinking about an upcoming errand or being distracted by another activity and we end up in a slip, trip, or fall. Slipping on an icy surface can lead to a variety of regrettable outcomes, ranging from a simple bruised shin or ankle to an extremely serious injury. Here are a few tips to help avoid potential slips, trips or falls when traversing icy and/or snowy ground.

  • Do the penguin shuffle. Focus on your footing, walk flat-footed, take short steps to keep your center of balance over your feet.
  • Take it slow. Walk slowly on snow and ice to avoid a slip.
  • Wear proper footwear for the weather. Choose footwear with non-slip soles, deep treads, and wide, low heels; add cleats for extra traction.
  • Carry only what you can. Carrying less or using a bag or backpack decreases your chance of falling, and keeps your hands free if you do.
  • Watch for changing conditions. Monitor the weather; cycles of freezing, melting, and re-freezing are especially dangerous.
  • Don’t be distracted. Put your cell phone away while walking and focus on where you’re going.
  • Step down, not out, from curbs and cars. Falls in parking lots are common; step flat-footed off curbs, step down with both feet when exiting your vehicle.
  • Walk on marked paths and avoid short cuts. Short cuts are likely to be icy and put you in danger of slipping so stay where others have already trodden.
  • Report icy conditions. While entering/exiting your workplace or while visiting a business, tell a someone if you spot slippery spots so they can shovel or salt problem areas.
  • Spread salt on ice. If you see a slippery area and salt is available, spread it yourself if you feel comfortable doing so.


For more tips to help keep you safe while traversing icy and/or snowy ground this winter, check out the additional tips and resources available from the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration at