Jan. 9 is the “Most Dangerous Day” for Workers in Colorado

Recent data found that Colorado workers sustained the most slips, trips, and falls on Jan. 9 over the last five years, due to weather conditions.

Recent data shows that in Colorado, one day in particular sees a large number of workers’ compensation claims due to weather-related injuries. Pinnacol Assurance analyzed data collected over the last five years and found that Jan. 9 was consistently number one in worker injuries, and the majority are due to slips, trips, and falls on ice and snow.

Pinnacol’s claim data showed a 62 percent spike in injuries on Jan. 9, with an average of 198 workers getting injured in the state on this day. Further analysis showed that most of the injuries were “slips, trips, and falls” on snow or ice.

“Snowy weather is not part of Colorado’s allure and charm, and anyone who’s lived or run a business here knows conditions can change rapidly. So it’s no surprise that we see a lot of these injuries,” said Ellen Sarvay, Pinnacol safety consultant and expert in slip, trip, and fall avoidance. “More awareness, preparation, and caution in bad weather could help reduce these injuries significantly.”

The good news is that slips and falls are usually relatively minor, causing only bumps, bruises, and cuts. The bad news is that sometimes, slipping or falling can be dangerous and life-threatening. Pinnacol sees more severe injuries every year, including muscle injuries, bone breaks, and even head injuries, which can be very serious. The most common injuries Pinnacol recorded on Jan. 9 were:

  1. Slip, trip, or fall
  2. Strains
  3. Struck (usually by an object)
  4. Strikes (usually a worker makes contact with an object, such as hitting their head on a shelf)
  5. Cuts

Some industries saw more of these injuries than others. For example, professional/clerical (office workers) and health care workers contributed the most. For both industries, Jan 9. was “the most dangerous day” of the year.  

More good news? There are ways to make Jan. 9 less dangerous, however. First, employers have control over the safety of work environments and the protection of their workers. Employers have a responsibility to keep walkways, parking lots, and other surfaces well-lit and free from ice or snow.

However, another common danger zone that employers may not realize is indoor surfaces.

“Pinnacol sees many claims from people hurting themselves when they hit those indoor surfaces, like lobby areas,” said Sarvay. “It’s important to take a look at your building’s entryways and ask what happens when snow gets tracked in.” Make sure you have enough mats/rugs to cover any flooring that gets slick when wet and that the mats in place don’t end abruptly or pose any other hazards from being lumpy, curled or in poor condition.

Employees can stay alert and aware, too. Make sure you’re looking at weather forecasts, choosing appropriate footwear, and being cautious where you step. Snow boots are best, and workers should, at the very least, pick a show with good tread.

Sarvay said workers who wear gloves or mittens not only keep their hands warmer but also keep their hands out of their pockets for balance and potentially catching themselves if they do fall.

Getting in and out of cars can be a major risk, too. As you transfer your weight to one leg either getting in or out of vehicles, it’s easy for you to lose your footing on icy surfaces. It’s best to maintain three points of contact at all times, with either two feet on the ground and a handhold on something unmoving, or one foot on the ground and two handholds.

When in doubt, though, “walk like a penguin!” It sounds silly, but it’s easy to remember and pretty useful. Sarvay says to keep your hands out of your pockets, take slow shuffling steps—step down, not out, to keep your foot in contact with the ground.

Additional major industries in Colorado that had “most dangerous days” are:

  • Construction and Natural Resources: July 28
  • Education: February 4
  • Service and Hospitality: July 13

While not all injuries are preventable, especially in bad weather conditions, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your workers. Awareness, preparation, and training can be a big factor in preventing claims in the future.

Read Pinnacol’s tips on preventing slips, trips, and falls and learn how to “walk like a penguin.”

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