Preventing Falls within the Workplace to Keep Your Employees Safe
When it comes to keeping people safe in the workplace, preventing falls is one of the most important things to address. In fact, falls are the second most common type of accident in the workplace, and the second leading cause of fatalities as well. With this in mind, consider the following strategies for preventing falls, and see which ones you can implement in your facility.
7 Strategies for Preventing Falls within the Workplace
1. Removing Clutter
One of the easiest, yet most often neglected, ways to prevent falls is to remove the clutter from areas where people are walking. In many facilities it is easy for things to start getting cluttered up because people don’t know where to set things until they are used. For example, if you have inventory items for the facility, someone may set them near the machine where they are going to be used.
This is not typically where they will belong, and instead should be placed on the proper inventory shelving areas. If parts or other inventory are to be kept in an area, it should be well organized and limited to the specific spot where they belong. This can be easily encouraged by using floor marking tape to identify the storage spot that should be used.
Other types of clutter can include things like dollies or other small machines that are often used within the facility. When people are done with these things they are often just pushed off to the side and left there. Not only is this inefficient, but it can also be a trip hazard for those who may be carrying large boxes or otherwise have obstructed vision.
2. Discourage Walking with Obstructed Vision
On the subject of walking with obstructed vision, this should always be discouraged. People often want to lift large items to bring them where they need to go, but this can be a significant danger. Even if the item isn’t too heavy (which it often is) it can make it hard to see where they are walking. This, of course, can make it far more likely that they will fall along the way.
Instead of carrying these things in their arms, it is a good idea to encourage everyone to use carts or other tools that will let them bring the items where they need to go more safely. In addition to preventing falls, this is also an easier way to get things done so it won’t cause employees to become fatigued.
3. Proper Lighting
Most facilities have areas in them where there is not sufficient light to see properly. It can be difficult to put the proper amount of light into the right areas, but it really must be a priority, even if these are areas where people don’t often work.
Installing additional lighting will not only help to reduce the chances that people will trip over items and fall, but it will help people to be able to work more efficiently. When there is plenty of light, they will be able to get their jobs done more quickly. Proper lighting is also often a regulation issue with organizations like OSHA, so taking a little time to put in additional lights can help to save any type of infractions or other safety violations.
4. Identifying Uneven Surfaces
There are often places within facilities where the flooring is uneven. Whether it is bumpy, it goes up or down slightly or there are other issues, these can all cause people to fall. Whenever the floor is uneven, it should be clearly marked so people know to take extra care.
Many companies take floor marking tape (which you can find here) or shapes and put them down over the areas that are uneven. Others will use safety signs that are placed on the walls or doors that lead to the area. If you have any type of unevenness in your facility, make sure to take a close look at it and decide what the best way to alert people to the situation would be.
Of course, if it is practical, the best option is to take the time to even out the floor. While this isn’t always possible, it should be done if it is. This will help to entirely eliminate the issue, rather than just alerting people to it through markings.
5. Prevent Access to Slippery Areas
It is impossible to prevent all types of spills and other events that can cause a floor to become slippery. When this type of thing happens, however, it should be the responsibility of the first person who sees it to mark the area and prevent people from being exposed to it.
This may mean putting up a ‘slippery when wet’ sign, or it could mean adding hazard tape or other items to the area. Of course, once the area is sectioned off, it is important to make sure the spill is cleaned up as quickly as possible so people can get back to working in the area like normal.
6. Addressing Wet Areas
In some instances it is not possible to prevent people from going into an area where the floor may be slippery. For example, if it is raining outside, the entrance to the building will likely get wet and slippery.
Taking steps to address this common issue should be a priority for the facility. You may be able to fix it by simply putting down rugs so people can dry their feet, or even adding traction providing anti-slip floor marking tape (similar to this) throughout the area. If possible, add a fan or other item to help dry out the floor as quickly as possible as well.
Whatever you can do to help keep the areas where people are walking as safe as possible is absolutely essential. These types of things are often predictable problems that should be addressed before anyone is exposed to the risk.
7. Reporting Falls
Finally, one of the most important things that you and all the other employees of a facility can do is report all falls, even if nobody is injured. Keeping track of any area where a fall takes place will allow you to identify problem areas within the facility and take steps to get them addressed.
In many cases, there will be an issue in the facility that is causing people to fall, but if nobody reports it, nobody will make the connection that it is a problem. Many people are hesitant to report these types of things because they fear getting in trouble or causing problems. The facility safety and management teams, however, need to make sure that people are comfortable bringing these concerns to the proper people.
Benefits of Preventing Falls within the Workplace
The bottom line is that any time you can keep people from falling, you will not only be helping them to be safer, but you will also be benefiting the facility. When someone is injured due to a fall it will cause a potentially long work stoppage. In addition, the individual may need to go to the hospital and be off work for quite some time.
With this in mind, any activities that are performed that are aimed at preventing falls should always be seen as an investment in overall productivity and the facility itself. When done properly, it will help all the employees to remain safe and the facility to enjoy an improved bottom line.
- Fall Protection (Guarding Floor/Wall Openings and Holes)—1910.23
- 5s Floor Marking
- OSHA and ANSI Z359 – Fall Protection Standard
- Stop the Accident before You’re Part of the Accident
- Slips, Trips, & Falls