It happens to all of us in every day life, from time to time uneven ground, slippery surfaces, or a momentary distraction can send us tumbling. In most cases, we’re lucky to walk away relatively unscathed, but slips, trips, and falls can also cause major injuries and complications. This is especially true in the workplace, where heavy equipment, moving vehicles, and other factors can be involved. Let’s take a look at some effective methods you can improve your efforts to prevent these common injuries.
Why You Should Care
While slips and falls can be serious, we witness minor tumbles more often, desensitizing us to the potential for injury, death, and work loss days as a result. To counter this perception, however, the U.S. Department of Labor put out some startling statistics: According to reports filed, slips, trips, and falls are second only to motor vehicle incidents in accidental deaths every single year. Furthermore, one quarter of all injury claims filed in a year will come from slips and falls, and the estimated work days lost per year to related injuries number nearly 100 million in the U.S. alone – accounting for over 60% of all work days lost. Clearly, there are improvements to be made, and a large cumulative consequence when they are not.
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Decreasing Trip, Slip, and Fall Frequency
Minimize slippery areas: Depending on the type of business you’re in, the areas that become greasy or slippery in your workplace, and the root causes behind them, are going to be different. In a restaurant kitchen or food-related establishment, kitchen floors may become slippery with water or greasy from food scraps. In a production facility, a material spill might leave a floor dangerously slick. In a supply yard, sawdust, dust, or machine grease and grime might account for your most dangerous slipping hazards. While slippery areas are sometimes unavoidable, the length of time areas are slippery can be controlled and minimized. Make it employee practice that areas are cleaned immediately after use, before moving to another station. Also look into behavior modification or rearranging a room in such a way that spillage and slippery surfaces occur less frequently. In addition, always have spill kits (example of spill kits) available to help clean up spills. Lastly, its always important to have the proper signage (like this floor sign) available to warn employees of a spill.
Say ‘no’ to clutter: Walkways and isles are areas employees need to be able to move quickly and efficiently through and shouldn’t be an obstacle course; this is dangerous, and often occurs when items aren’t put back in their place after use. Encourage employees to place items back where they go immediately after use to ensure tools, carts, and other dangerous tripping hazards aren’t left in worker pathways. Sometimes walkway clutter comes about as a result of simply having too much in a small space. Consider implementing a 5S project to un-clutter these areas and remove seldom used or unused items. Using 5s tools like, foam tool organizers (which can be found here) and floor tape (examples of different floor tape) can give your facility a quick boost in organization and efficiency.
Remember the classic scene of a father entering a child’s room only to slip on his roller skate? Similar scenarios can have serious consequences in the workplace, so don’t blow off addressing your clutter.
Footwear: When it comes to personal protection equipment, we often think of things like earplugs, eyewear, and gloves, but the feet can go unnoticed. When it comes to the types of accidents we’re talking about, nothing could be more important than addressing footwear. In physical labor industries, workers should be expected to wear appropriate footwear that gives them traction while moving, lifting, etc. You can read a good article about proper footwear over here.
Lighting: Another often overlooked factor, proper lighting, can make a difference as well. While most work floors are well-lit, supply rooms and the like often are not. A worker not being able to notice something sticking out or on the ground in front of them could easily cause an accident and injury. Consider installing bright lights in any room employees will be walking in, especially if they will be carringy bulky materials or pushing something in front of them at the same time (as these materials limit visibility)!