Preventing falls and other accidents now that winter is upon us

By Medical Service - January 2023

With the snow and the ice, pavements and road surfaces can resemble skating rinks, increasing the risk of slips and injuries. Winter sports are also a common source of accidents. At this time of year, the CERN infirmary sees more people coming in with musculoskeletal problems after a fall.

In 2021 in Switzerland, 195 000 people were injured after tripping, falling or slipping while walking or on the stairs (Suva, 2021). At CERN, in 2022, three people fell off their bicycles, resulting in one being signed off work for eight days, and one person fell while walking and was signed off for four days.

In addition, over 30 000 employees in Switzerland suffer winter sports injuries every year (Suva, 2021). According to a report published in 2021 by the French Observatoire d'accidentologie des sports d'hiver, more than 110 000 people experienced traumatic injuries in France in 2020.

In downhill skiing, sprained knees are the most common injury, accounting for almost a third of the total (32%), with shoulder injuries – mainly dislocated shoulders – accounting for 15%. Snowboarding most commonly results in wrist fractures (25%) or shoulder injuries (19%).,Miscellaneous

So how can you glide through the season smoothly and make the most of the winter sports opportunities?

Whether or not you’re a fan of snow sports, take care during your journeys and activities.

Whichever sport you choose, make sure that you’re prepared and have the right kit. Here are some basic tips for skiers and snowboarders in particular:

  • Good physical preparation is key to reducing the risk of an accident. Strengthen your muscles and do cardiovascular workouts (see advice (in French) from the Swiss national accident insurance fund Suva on making the most of the season).
  • Get your ski equipment checked every year; a lot of sprained knees are caused by badly adjusted fastenings or boots.
  • Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 35% in the event of an accident: get a helmet that meets the standards and is the right size for your head.
  • Warm up / stretch before hitting the slopes.
  • Wear wrist guards if you’re a snowboarder.
  • Eat regularly and drink hot drinks to stay hydrated.
  • Slow down.

Have a great winter!

For more information, check out the following links (in French):

Bien se protéger du froid (

Top 3 des accidents de sports d’hiver et comment soulager une blessure (

Sports d’hiver | Pratiquer ski et snowboard sans accident (

Tout schuss sur les pistes : les blessures liées à la pratique du ski - Chirurgie orthopédique (


Find this article on the CERN Bulletin here.