Black Ice


Definition - What does Black Ice mean?

Black ice is a phenomenon characterized by a transparent layer of ice on road surfaces and walkways due to meteorological conditions such as sleet or snow that quickly freezes, imposing safety hazards for driving and walking. The formation of black ice occurs in areas where low sunlight exposure prevents immediate thawing/melting from precipitation that hardens on the ground, making accidents more likely due to the poor road conditions.

WorkplaceTesting explains Black Ice

During the winter, employees who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMV) must contend with treacherous weather conditions where black ice is difficult to maneuver, noted by a tendency to slide and lose control of the steering transmission. Practicing safe driving methods is crucial, and drivers should be aware of techniques such as steering parallel in the direction of a skid without braking/speeding up. Vehicles should also receive specialized tires with a surface-to-traction ratio and tread depth necessary to grip slick roads due to black ice. Drivers must use caution when venturing into locales where patches of black ice can prompt instinctive reactions (i.e., jerking the wheel) instead of riding out the inertia or force of momentum, reducing speed to deter accidents.

Statistical data highlights that geographical regions where cold temperatures are more prevalent experience a higher incidence rate for trips and falls among individuals entering and exiting workplace premises. Employers must assume responsibility for ensuring that snow-covered pathways, icy entryways/exits, and other designated points for walking are considered safe with salting agents or oil-based absorbents/grit compound mixtures to aid traction. Other methods for preventing slips and falls, such as the placement of safety cones and signage to alert both employees and customers of potential black ice, can increase safety and help avoid liability.

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