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‘Walk like a penguin’ to stay safe on ice this winter

February 14, 2023
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Pinnacol Assurance reports worker falls on ice are up 14% since January 2022.

DENVER, Feb. 14, 2023 — As Coloradans manage this year’s heavy snowfall, ever-present ice and record-low temperatures, Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer — Pinnacol Assurance — is reminding everyone to “walk like a penguin” to stay safe and on their feet. 

Slips and falls are among the most common causes of injuries for Colorado workers, ranking among the top workplace risks for Colorado businesses. A study of Pinnacol’s claims data from January 2017 through March 2021 found that 40% of all claims each year result from slipping. In 2022, Pinnacol saw 1,971 claims related to slipping and falling — a 50.92% increase from the previous year. Colorado sees a drastic increase in injuries due to ice and snow, with most claims occurring from early January to early February. In fact, claims related to falling on ice were up 14% in January 2023 compared with last January and 141% compared to January 2021.

Slip, trip and fall injuries are often minor; however, severe injuries and fatalities occur each year. According to Pinnacol data, this is a very risky time for falls. As a partner of the state, Pinnacol continues to raise awareness and provide education to help reduce injuries. To help people avoid falls, the safety team teaches Coloradans how to walk like a penguin. The concept may seem silly, but it works. 

Penguins are uniquely adept at navigating slippery surfaces. When we mimic how penguins walk — short shuffles, angled feet, outstretched arms — we can stay on our feet better and avoid dangerous falls. The penguin walk is an easy and fun way for Coloradans to remember how to adapt their walk in challenging conditions. 

The Denver-based insurer is a partner of the Denver Zoo, supporting the African penguin exhibit, Pinnacol African Penguin Point. Located at the zoo’s main entrance, the $1.7 million exhibit features a 10,000-gallon swimming pool, multiple burrows and nesting areas, and nearly 85 linear feet of underwater viewing areas. The state-of-the-art exhibit allows guests to watch how penguins walk up close and learn about the birds from their keepers and other experts.

Pinnacol created an easy-to-remember acronym to help people learn how to walk like a penguin:

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.

 Other tips to reduce risks during winter weather include:

  • 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. 
  • Be cautious with inside surfaces that can become very slippery and accumulate moisture. 

With the largest and most experienced safety team in Colorado, Pinnacol is committed to helping Coloradans identify and eliminate hazards, especially in the workplace. To learn more about how to keep employees safe — and how to walk like a penguin — please visit

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