We’ve all slipped, tripped, or fallen at some time. Although many of these accidents are minor, some can be serious – and if they occur on the job, they can cost you a fortune!
Falls account for about 15% of work-related injuries (second only to lower back pain and lifting injuries in the number of Workers Comp claims filed), leading to hundreds of deaths and thousands of disabilities every year. Almost all of these accidents could have been prevented by recognizing and learning to avoid fall hazards.
Falls often occur on the floor because of slippery surfaces caused by grease, water, or ice. Even if you have a sturdy, slip-resistant floor, a slight contamination from dust, water, grease or metal shavings can make the surface slippery. Wearing inappropriate footwear, poor lighting, and obstacles in walkways or on stairs can contribute to slips, trips, and falls, as can the unsafe or incorrect use of ladders. Climbing on chairs, boxes, or shelving to access higher levels often lead to injuries. Even in the supposedly safe environment of an office, falls are the most common type of accident. Tripping over an open desk or file drawer is a frequent hazard. Falls can also occur when an office worker bends down to reach something while seated in an unstable chair or trips over an electrical cord.
To help eliminate slip, trip, and fall hazards, we’d recommend taking these steps:
- Make tripping and fall hazards a major part of your regular safety inspections. Include these items in your daily and weekly inspection checklists. Also encourage workers to report any slip, trip, or fall hazards they identify.
- Review accident reports to determine the causes of slips, trips, and falls. Don’t fall into the trap of just blaming “carelessness.” One supervisor did just that at American Airlines when a cargo handler descending from the cab of a ramp cargo vehicle slipped on a worn tread and broke his ankle. The safety department admonished the department supervisor for writing down “Told to be careful” as the corrective action, when the real cause of the accident was the worn tread that should’ve been reported and replaced.
- Post safety posters warning about slip, trip, and fall hazards all around your facility as a constant reminder.
- Provide slip, trip, and fall training for all workers.