Slips, trips and falls are the second leading cause (after motor vehicle crashes) of occupational injuries. They cause head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, lacerations, sprained muscles and a significant number of deaths. According to Liberty Mutual’s 2010 Workplace Safety Index, they are the second leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, accounting for $8.37 billion a year in direct costs, including lost production and overtime.
Slips occur when there is too little traction or friction between a shoe and a surface. Trips occur when a foot contacts an unexpected object or drops unexpectedly to a lower level, throwing a worker off-balance. A fall occurs when a worker is too far off-balance. Typically, a trip results in a forward fall while a slip produces a backward one.
These accidents and injuries can be prevented. The first step is recognizing the hazard. The next step is to correct a recognized hazard promptly. The third step is preventing the hazard’s recurrence.
Common slip, trip and fall hazards:
- Uneven surfaces
- Poor lighting
- Unanchored rugs
- Weather conditions
- Unsafe floor products
Supervisors, workers and workplace safety committee members should keep these dangers in mind as they work or survey a worksite. When a hazard is spotted, it should be immediately addressed.
Preventing recurrence requires more training for supervisors and workers and consistent monitoring of workplace conditions. Factors in slips, trips and falls are:
- Poor housekeeping
- Improper footwear
- Obstructed vision
- Ignoring apparent hazards
To address these and other hazards, the LHSFNA’s Occupational Safety and Health Division recommends establishment of joint labor-management worksite health and safety committees. This ensures a regular means of monitoring safety and health conditions and a way for labor and management to work together on developing and implementing best practices.