Slip sliding away at work? Walk like a penguin

Employees should walk like a penguin to avoid the winter time slips and falls that rank among the most common cause of workplace injuries, according to a Colorado workers’ compensation insurer.

Pinnacol Assurance reported that a study of its claims from January 2017 through March 2021 found that 40 percent of claims resulted from slipping. In 2022, Pinnacol reported 1,971 claims related to slipping and falling — a nearly 51 percent increase from the previous year.

Most claims occur in Colorado from early January to early February. Claims related to falling on ice were up 14 percent in January 2023 compared to January 2022  and 141 percent compared to January 2021.

While most slip and fall injuries are minor, severe injuries and even fatalities occur.

To help them avoid slips and falls, the safety team at Pinnacol Assurance encourages employees to walk like penguins. Penguins are uniquely adept at navigating slippery surfaces. When people mimic how penguins walk — short shuffles, angled feet, outstretched arms — they can stay on their feet and avoid dangerous falls. The penguin walk offers a way for employees to remember how to adapt walking to challenging conditions.

Pinnacol created an acronym as a reminder:

P — Point your toes outward and walk flat-footed.

E — Extend your arms for balance, just like flippers.

N — No unnecessary distractions.

G — Grippy shoes are a must.

N — Neat, shuffling steps.

Pinnacol offered other tips to reduce risks during winter weather:

Make sure you wear shoes with traction in snow or ice. Leather-soled shoes and high heels are particularly unsafe in winter weather.

Wear gloves or mittens and keep your hands out of your pockets and extended to help with balance and to potentially catch yourself if you fall.

Take extra precautions getting in and out of your car. Try to maintain three points of contact at all times — either two feet on the ground and one hand holding onto something that won’t move, like the steering wheel, or one foot on the ground and both hands holding onto something secure.

Remain cautious on inside surfaces that accumulate moisture and can become slippery.

For more information about keeping employees safe — as well as how to walk like a penguin — visit the website located at