Slips, trips and falls in the workplace continue to be the cause of many injuries and illnesses. With winter weather creating more possibilities for slippery surfaces, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) offers tips on how to prevent slips, trips, and falls at work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2007, floors, walkways, and ground surfaces were the source of 20% of all days away from work cases, an increase of 7% from 2006. In addition, in 2008, the number of fatal falls on the same level—to a floor, walkway, or an object—increased from the year before to a total of 84 deaths.
Also, according to the 2009 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index (available for download here), in the U.S., disabling workplace injuries from same-level falls had a direct cost of $6.2 billion in workers compensation in 2007, ranking second to overexertion as a leading cause of disabling injury. The index also noted that from 1998 – 2007, falls on the same level increased by 36.7%.
The following are some basic suggested tips from ASSE aimed at helping prevent slips, trips, and falls at work:
- Remove slip, trip, and fall hazards from the work area, especially in high trafficked places. Even though workers may be moving at a reasonable pace and keeping their eyes on where they are going, predictable surfaces with good traction help prevent slips, trips, and falls.
- Establish a no running policy. Though in some industries staff may need to work at a quick pace, such as the retail, hospitality, and restaurant industry, making sure that workers do not run can prevent injuries and illnesses due to slips and falls.
- Make sure workers wear proper footwear with good traction that is kept in good repair. Take a look at the soles of shoes regularly to check for excessive wear. Slip resistant footwear should be considered where necessary, such as footwear with spiked or studded soles that can improve traction on ice.
- Cleaning procedures for floors are essential to good slip resistance. Make sure that all walking surfaces are kept free of spills, water, oil, and any other substances that may affect the traction of the surface.
- Report any spills and provide adequate signage regarding hazards such as spills, uneven surfaces, debris, icy sidewalks, smooth concrete, and other hazards. Also ensure that your company has a process that documents incidents and reports slip and fall hazards.
- Make sure that staff is trained on how to properly clean/remove slip, trip and fall hazards. Also ensure that staff and management are trained in slip, trip and fall prevention. Workers should resume work only after a hazard has been removed or resolved.
- Make sure all areas have adequate lighting to illuminate any potential hazards.
- To prevent surface water accumulation in areas that can lead to slips, trips and falls, ensure that there are adequate drainage systems and pumps in place.
- Be aware of the floor types in your company to help determine the degree of hazards for slips, trips and falls.