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6 Tips for Dealing with Black Ice

Blackline Safety Leader in Connected Gas Detection & Lone Worker Safety November 13, 2012

G7c-quad-in-gloved-hand-with-concrete-background-400wWith winter fast approaching, the risk of a slip, trip, or fall as a result of black ice increases. To help reduce this risk, follow the simple steps below:

But first, What is Black Ice?

Black ice (also known as clear ice) forms when water freezes in such a way that it appears completely clear to the eye. The clarity of the ice frequently causes the pavement below to show through, creating the illusion that no ice is present. This poses a great deal of risk that pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists may be unaware that there is a danger. Black ice can form even when the surrounding temperature is above 0°C. As such, areas across Canada and the United States of America can experience black ice conditions.

What Can Be Done to Reduce the Risk of a Black Ice Fall?

In order to avoid a slip, trip, or fall from black ice:

1) Communicate the risk - If there is a risk of slipping due to ice, be sure to post some kind of warning notification. Not only will this keep the danger at the forefront of your employees consciousness, but it will also warn visitors to your facility of the danger.

2) Wear a robust tread - Leather-soled or shallow-tread rubber-soled shoes are not enough to reduce the risk of a slip under normal icy conditions, let alone black ice conditions. Avoid slips by wearing appropriate winter footwear with a friction co-efficient appropriate to the circumstances. For more information on picking good shoes, check out the article 6 Tips for Avoiding Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace.

3) Manage walkways - Areas of traffic should be managed to help reduce the risk of slipping. Salt is an effective deicing agent down to temperatures of -18°C. Other compounds can help remove the ice at even lower temperatures.

4) Penguin-walk -Don't be embarrassed, it's safety! When walking over icy surfaces, take very small steps in order to maintain balance. Do not put your hands in your pocket (this increases you risk of broken bones should you fall), and keep your eyes ahead of you.

Spread gravel over walkways to add additional grip or friction.

5) Scratch the Surface - Sometimes you cannot melt the ice, smash it, or shovel it away. If this is not possible, use a spade or ice-spade to mar the surface. Doing this causes black ice to become more easily visible and provides greater traction to those walking over it.

6) Avoid Walking on the Ice When Possible - It is possible that you or someone you work with may need to walk over an icy patch at some point. Until that moment arrives, try to avoid walking over riskier areas. Take non-icy routes and avoid the risk altogether.

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While any one of these techniques can help reduce the risk of a slip on black ice, you should always try to make use of all of the methods together in order to reduce the risk as much as possible.

Always remember that the safest way to avoid slipping on any ice however, is to avoid walking on it altogether.

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