It can happen in a split second. A momentary lapse of attention or distraction ends in a slip, trip or fall. And with winter upon us, slips are an even greater danger due to ice, snow and wet surfaces.
Why Should You Take This So Seriously?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips and falls make up the majority of general industry accidents. Further, the National Safety Council reported that slips, trips and falls accounted for 211,640 work-related injuries or 21.7 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2020.
The average number of days lost was 14, with the most frequent injuries being sprains, strains and tears.
Winter is one of many hazardous conditions with situations that set the stage for workplace slips, trips and falls. Below, we highlight a few common causes of these workplace hazards and how to prevent them.
Common Causes of Accidental Slips
- Wet or oily surfaces
- Leftover spills
- Slippery conditions due to snow, ice, mud and water
Common Causes of Tripping and Falling Accidents
- Clutter on floors and walkways
- Loose and wrinkled rugs and mats
- Variable traction between walking surfaces
- Loose or missing floor tiles
- Sloped and uneven walking surfaces
- Poor lighting, including burnt-out bulbs
- Cables that aren’t adequately covered
Slips and trips, followed by falls, happen due to either a loss of traction or inadvertent contact with an object leading to a stumble and fall. The causes are almost too many to count, but there are a few effective ways you can try to prevent them.
12 Tips for Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls
Understanding the causes behind slips and trips can help drive your efforts at prevention. Below, we’ve identified 12 ways to improve workplace safety.
1) Implement Critical Housekeeping Practices
Maintaining a safe workplace is at the heart of reducing slips, trips and falls. And it begins with proper and regular housekeeping. Ensure that employees complete all the required cleanup and maintenance regularly and that a person or workgroup has clear responsibility for each task.
A housekeeping checklist that includes all tasks and requires checkmarks and a signature at the end of a shift by employees may be a good place to start.
2) Clean Up All Spills at Once
An essential part of housekeeping is cleaning up spills as soon as they happen. Don’t wait for some unsuspecting person to wander into danger and take a fall.
3) Reduce Wet and Slippery Surfaces
Cleaning up spills is part of making sure all surfaces are dry. But you’ll also need to examine the walking surfaces throughout your facility and take steps to provide necessary drainage or cleanup procedures to reduce dampness and, in turn, slips.
Non-skid throw rugs can also help prevent slipping in the workplace.
4) Install Floor Mats at Entrances
Placing absorbent mats at entrances can help reduce the amount of water, snow and mud tracked into the workplace. Just remember they also need to be cleaned regularly and replaced periodically.
5) Eliminate Walkway Obstacles
Any obstacles on walkways can cause trips and falls. That includes various cords for electrical power or Internet connections. Use proper cord covers or, better yet, provide the right outlets where they’re needed rather than using extension cords.
6) Maintain Consistent Flooring
Cracks or holes in the flooring are accidents waiting to happen. Regularly inspect the flooring and make needed repairs as soon as possible. In the interim, place warning signs to alert employees and route them away from the hazard.
7) Install and Maintain Proper Lighting
Darkness and shadows are dangerous because employees cannot identify tripping and slipping hazards. To avoid this challenge, install and maintain proper lighting throughout the workplace. That includes spotlights, illuminated steps and replacing burnt-out bulbs.
8) Insist on Proper Footwear
Slips start where the rubber, or sole, meets the road. Employees must wear the proper footwear for their specific working conditions. Shoes should fit properly, and employees must replace them when there’s excessive wear.
Certain companies will offer a shoe program that encourages employees to equip their feet with the right gear to handle each task.
For example, you may provide employees with a special voucher that covers a percentage of the cost of purchasing safety footwear at a preferred retailer each year. This gives employees more incentives to choose the right safety gear to protect themselves and your business’s future.
9) Maintain Stairways
Make sure handrails are installed and in good repair. Mark the top and bottom stairs with reflective tape to alert employees. Remove unsecured rugs and carpets from the stairways and landings.
10) Provide Ladders and Step Stools
Employees can easily climb shelving and stand on chairs, desks and tables in a rush to complete a task. Providing easily accessible step stools and ladders can provide the support they need where and when they need it.
11) Use Signage to Warn Employees
Signs are a great way to warn employees of uneven walking surfaces, loose rocks, gaps, steps or potential problem areas. Reflective tape can also help increase awareness of a potential tripping or falling hazard.
12) Train Employees to Avoid Slips, Trips and Falls
Putting in place and maintaining all these preventative measures will prove very helpful. But it is also wise to provide training for employees to help raise awareness and introduce techniques to prevent injury.
That might seem like a long list, but it’s short compared to the costs. Those costs range from personal injury, which can also lead to employee turnover. Then there are rising insurance costs plus regulatory citations and all that follows.
After all, safety is an investment that pays off in the long run.
EDUCATE. EMPOWER. ADVOCATE.
At OECS, our mission is to inspire strong safety cultures that help clients understand OSHA requirements and develop customized safety programs to prevent workplace injuries, including slips, trips and falls. The first place we like to start is educating your team and empowering them to practice safety daily.
Connect with us to learn how we can help you build a culture committed to workplace safety.