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It’s probably happened to most of us. That momentary lapse of inattention thinking about a personal problem or distracted by an activity that ends in a slip, trip or fall. A stumble down a stairway. A trip over an uneven surface. Slipping on the ice. It can lead to a variety of regrettable events ranging from a simple bruised shin to an extremely serious injury. It’s just one of a variety of conditions and situations that set the stage for slips, trips and falls in the workplace.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips and falls make up the majority of general industry accidents, which account for:
In general, slips and trips occur due to a loss of traction between the shoe and the walking surface or an inadvertent contact with a fixed or moveable object which may lead to a fall. There are a variety of situations that may cause slips, trips and falls.
Recommended reading: Fall Prevention and Protection: Principles, Guidelines, and Practices
Here are six guidelines to help you create a safer working environment for you and your employees.
1) Create Good Housekeeping Practices
Good housekeeping is critical. Safety and housekeeping go hand-in-hand. If your facility’s housekeeping habits are poor, the result may be a higher incidence of employee injuries, ever-increasing insurance costs and regulatory citations. If an organization’s facilities are noticeably clean and well organized, it is a good indication that its overall safety program is effective as well.
Proper housekeeping is a routine. It is an ongoing procedure that is simply done as a part of each worker’s daily performance. To create an effective housekeeping program, there are three simple steps to get you started
2) Reduce Wet or Slippery Surfaces
Walking surfaces account for a significant portion of injuries reported by state agencies. The most frequently reported types of surfaces where these injuries occur include
Traction on outdoor surfaces can change considerably when weather conditions change. Those conditions can then affect indoor surfaces as moisture is tracked in by pedestrian traffic. Traction control procedures should be constantly monitored for their effectiveness.
Indoor control measures can help reduce the incidence of slips and falls.
3) Avoid Creating Obstacles in Aisles and Walkways
Injuries can also result in from trips caused by obstacles, clutter, materials and equipment in aisles, corridors, entranceways and stairwells. Proper housekeeping in work and traffic areas is still the most effective control measure in avoiding the proliferation of these types of hazards. This means having policies or procedures in place and allowing time for cleaning the area, especially where scrap material or waste is a by-product of the work operation.
4) Create and Maintain Proper Lighting
Poor lighting in the workplace is associated with an increase in accidents.
5) Wear Proper Shoes
The shoes we wear can play a big part in preventing falls. The slickness of the soles and the type of heels worn need to be evaluated to avoid slips, trips and falls. Shoelaces need to be tied correctly. Whenever a fall-related injury is investigated, the footwear needs to be evaluated to see if it contributed to the incident. Employees are expected to wear footwear appropriate for the duties of their work task.
6) Control Individual Behavior
This condition is the toughest to control. It is human nature to let our guard down for two seconds and be distracted by random thoughts or doing multiple activities. Being in a hurry will result in walking too fast or running which increases the chances of a slip, trip or fall. Taking shortcuts, not watching where one is going, using a cell phone, carrying materials which obstructs the vision, wearing sunglasses in low-light areas, not using designated walkways and speed are common elements in many on-the-job injuries.
It’s ultimately up to each individual to plan, stay alert and pay attention.
About W.W. Grainger
W.W. Grainger Inc. with 2009 sales of $6.2 billion is the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) products serving businesses and institutions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico with an expanding presence in Japan, India, China and Panama.