Slips, trips and falls are unfortunately common in the workplace, and responsible for employees becoming injured. The U.S. Department of Labor has reported that slips, trips and falls are responsible for most of the general industry accidents. This includes over 95 million workdays lost due to these types of accidents, 15 percent of accidental deaths every year, and 25 percent of all injury claims reported each year. This shows not only how common these injuries are, but how important it is to be aware of the potential hazards in your workplace.
Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls
Someone in the workplace has a fall, trip or slip because of lack of traction between the walking surface and their shoe. But there are many different reasons this occurs. The following is a list of the potential hazards in the workplace that could lead to these types of accidents. As you can see, it is a rather lengthy list.
- Lack of employee training about hazards
- Poor footwear
- Spills not cleaned up quickly
- Wet floors, greasy floors
- Freshly polished floors
- Clutter in walkways
- Shoes with wet or oily soles
- File cabinet or desk drawers left opened
- Poor quality floor surfaces
- Wet or oily walkways
- Electrical cables and cords
- Loose tile, wood or carpet flooring
- Loose rugs and floor mats
- Wet leaves, pine needles, weeds in outdoor walkways
- Weather conditions, such as rain, ice, snow
- Damages steps
- No handrails on outdoor (or indoor) steps
- Dry floors with wood dust
- Uneven or sloped walking surfaces
- Damaged ladder steps
- Ramps without skid-resistant surfaces
- Poor lighting
As you have seen, there are many reasons for slips, trips, and falls. It can be anything from wearing the wrong type of shoes after a rainstorm, to employees not being educated on how to behave in the workplace. Here are some tips for preventing these types of workplace accidents.
- Have proper lighting – Outdoors, many slips and falls are from not being able to see clearly. Make sure your parking lot, stairways and other walkways always have proper lighting.
- Avoid gutter run-off – If after a rain or snow storm, the water is draining from gutters directly onto the walkways to your building, you need to have this repaired so there is a safer run-off location.
- Clean up spills – Spills are another common reason for falling in the workplace, either inside or outside. Make sure to have the spills reported and cleaned up immediately. Place a cone in the area of the spill until it gets cleaned up. This is part of training your employees properly.
- Replace inadequate flooring – If you have older rugs or carpets that are loose or coming up, get them replaced. All rugs should have non-slip surfaces so they aren’t sliding around when workers walk over them. Repair tile flooring that is damaged or missing tiles.
- Create safe ramps and stairways – All areas with stairs or steps should have a handrail. This is not only recommended, but required by local building codes. If you have a ramp, have a handrail installed and make sure the flooring is a non-slip surface.
- Practice good housekeeping – Some slips and falls are due to clutter, cords and cables. Make sure your employees practice good housekeeping in every work area, including moving cords and cables out of the way, not leaving clutter out where it can be tripped on, and closing file and desk drawers after using them.
- Train employees – Put your employees through a safety class, showing them the importance of being safe in the workplace and avoiding potential hazards.
Slips, trips, and falls tend to be common among reported injuries, but you can reduce them significantly by educating employees and making sure to keep up with proper safety precautions. Above all, make sure you have adequate business insurance and workers’ compensation insurance in the event of an employee slip, trip or fall.