How To Prevent Slips, Trips, And Falls

Knowing where accidents may happen is the first step to reduce these risks.

By William Davidson
From the August 2022 Issue

One of the most iconic comedy gags is the unsuspecting pedestrian slipping on a banana peel—but in real life, slips and falls are no joke. Slippery surfaces can have a major impact on people. Moving through dangerous areas changes how people walk. They slow down, change their gaits, and walk more flat-footed. They become less focused on what they are doing and more focused on not slipping.

In the enterprise arena, fall risks endanger employees, sabotage morale, increase medical costs, and can generate legal liabilities. As a result, facility managers have a responsibility, as well as fiduciary duty, to identify potential slip and fall hazards and remedy them as soon as possible.

preventing slips trips falls
Broadway receives an influx of traffic from different directions each day. (Photo: SLIPNOT)

These risks are hardly limited to workplaces. Slips and falls happen when a person moves from a high friction surface to a lower friction one—and that can happen virtually anywhere. Slips and falls in sporting venues, restaurants, retail outlets, or any public space are dangerous, disruptive, and can generate high-profile litigation.

Slips and falls are a common risk, but there are good options available to mitigate them. The first step to eliminating them is finding them via a rigorous safety inspection.

The Art And Science Of Safety Inspections

When conducting an inspection, auditors must be exceptionally observant. The first rule is to follow the facility’s activity — where people go and what they do — and note potential hazards along the way. By conducting a focused walk around the facility, the auditor can identify both existing and potential hazards.

Pay particularly close attention to three major issues: traffic, environment, and walking surfaces.

1. Assessing Traffic

Understanding the where and when of traffic volume will help inform the company on how to invest in slip-resistant surfaces. Some areas are constantly busy, while others are used infrequently. Storage areas, for example, may only see minimal traffic.