Monday, September 01, 2014

Slip, Trip, and Fall Reduction


Slip and fall accidents affect employees as well as company visitors. Falls on stairways result in almost two million disabling injuries annually. Thousands of other minor injuries are caused by non-stairway slips, trips, and falls each year. However, most disturbing of all is the fact that industrial falls cause over 1,000 deaths each year.
 
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists trips, slips and falls among the most common occupational injuries and fatalities. Trip hazards exist on areas that employees walk or work on while working. Regardless if employees work in an office building or a construction zone, trip hazards are out there, and can be prevented.

These injuries can cost businesses a lot of money and may cause employees to miss work if the injury is serious. However, employers can reduce the number of slip and fall accidents by putting an appropriate safety program in place. A safety program that effectively mitigates the risks of slip, trip & falls should contain the following aspects:

 

Housekeeping Training

Employees must learn proper housekeeping procedures in order to reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents in the workplace. Slips are commonly attributed to slick substances on the floor or walkway as well as loose carpeting, rugs or other floor coverings that are not properly secured. Employees must be trained to clean up spills from floors immediately when they occur. Walkways, parking lots, and sidewalks should be shoveled and salted in bad weather to reduce the risk of slips on ice or snow. Train employees during routine housekeeping to check and report tears in rugs, vinyl flooring or other floor coverings which will decrease the chance of tripping.

Posting Notifications

Train both housekeeping and maintenance staff on how to use notification signs in the workplace. Notifying other employees and pedestrians of spills, wet floors, or dangerous sidewalk conditions may reduce accidents. Train your employees to hang notification signs around areas in which they will be working. If the housekeeping staff is polishing floors, have them hang wet floor signs or set orange cones around the perimeter. You may want to train your staff to hang closed signs on restrooms when they are mopping the floors or post orange cones with danger signs around unsalted walkways or wet stairs. If carpeting is badly torn or otherwise hazardous, use tape to cordon off the perimeter. 

Maintenance Staff Training

Instruct your maintenance staff to secure cords properly when working with equipment and power tools. Emphasize the need for barricading particularly hazardous areas with caution tape to keep pedestrians away. Slip and fall accidents can be the result of someone walking in a low-light area, so make sure your staff is trained to change light bulbs and other lighting when necessary. Train your maintenance staff to promptly respond to reports of potentially hazardous areas such as broken stair treads, torn floor covering, and icy or slick sidewalks. 

Routine Maintenance

Train maintenance personnel to perform routine maintenance of the building, which will allow the staff to notice and repair any necessary issues -- like faulty switches or burned-out light bulbs -- before they become hazards. 

Unleveled Surfaces

Walking and working surfaces that are unleveled, not properly paved or contain holes are trip hazards. OSHA requires employers to address unleveled surface hazards immediately to avoid trip-and-fall accidents. Fixing loose boards in the floors, replacing buckled tiles and repairing holes in walking surfaces are good ways to keep employees safe and accident-free.

Objects

Objects lying on walking and working surfaces can be tripped over. OSHA mandates employers to make sure walk areas are cleared, clean and tidy. Boxes should always be put in appropriate storage closets, rather than being left in hallways or aisles where employees could trip over them. Electrical cords and wires on the ground also cause trip hazards, because employees don’t always see that they are there when walking. For office environments, rugs or ornamental floor décor may pose trip hazards for employees.

Some objects may not be able to be cleaned up or completely avoided. In construction areas, pebbles, rocks or tree bark might permeate the walking and working surfaces. It’s important for the site supervisor, or project manager, to put caution signs around hazardous areas so that employees know they are approaching a trip hazard and can be extra mindful of where they step.

Steps and Stairs

Unfortunately, it’s not hard to trip up, or down, on the steps of a staircase. Tripping hazards can be eliminated by installing handrails for employees to use as they go up, or down, the stairway. Tripping hazards can also be avoided by lining the steps with special grip material that allow employees to safely grasp the steps with their shoes, and prevents any slipping. 

Horseplay

When employees wrestle in the workplace, their horseplay poses a trip hazard. Running up and down walking and working surfaces can cause employees to trip over their own feet, and fall. Create a “No Horseplay” safety policy to prevent these types of accidents. 

Clas Consulting can help your organization develop a slip, trip and fall reduction program tailored to your exposures and environment. Our consultants start by conducting an assessment of the physical slip, trip and fall exposures in your environment, making recommendations to decrease exposures and implement controls, and finally by creating a maintenance and training program to address your needs. 

 

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