- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Icy weather reminds us to ‘walk like a penguin.’

Here in the Boston area, along with a large part of the country (except in Florida, where my mother keeps reminding me that it’s 80 degrees), we are dealing with some downright cold and icy conditions.

It’s this time of year that the clinic safety experts are on their game, reminding their employees and patients of the need to practice safe walking and lifting, especially in the parking lots and entryways, where slippery and untreated surface could lead to nasty slips, trips and falls.

I like the fun technique dreamed up by Bruce Cunha, manager of employee health safety for 60 clinics in Wisconsin, a place where Old Man Winter shows no mercy. You can check out his tips for keeping your clinics safe as well as others in the February issue of Medical Environment Update.

Instead of just a friendly reminder, a music video was produced, reminding employees to “walk like a penguin” – shuffling their feet in sort of a waddling motion, as opposed to the up and down of normal walking. To make it a little more fun, Cunha set the video to music, adding in the 1980s Bangles’ tune “Walk like an Egyptian” and employing volunteers to film themselves demonstrating the proper walking technique. Follow-up included signs in hallways, staff break rooms and other places that would ensure the message would stay in front of them. During the “Walk like a Penguin” campaign, small vinyl penguin footprints were placed on the floors of clinics as a visual reminder.

Cunha says the video worked so well that employees have been singing the songs in the hallways of his clinic, and he plans to produce more videos on topics ranging from food safety to needlestick safety.

“It obviously is getting across,” he says. “I see many people who walk down the hall past me and say ‘I’m walking like a penguin’.”

Stay safe out there. Just think – in about 3 months we’ll complaining about how hot it is.