Did you know that slips, trips, and falls are one of the top three causes of non-fatal injuries in the workplace? According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, in 2020 18% of non-fatal occupational injuries were caused by a slip, trip, and fall event. The resulting injuries ranged from soreness and bruising to sprains and fractures with an average of 14 days away from work for recovery time. Many of these injuries can be prevented with simple and effective mitigation measures.
Something as simple as an extension cord across the hallway or an overturned corner of a rug can cause someone to trip and seriously injure themselves. Tripping hazards can easily be prevented by good housekeeping and maintenance.
- Keep walkways clear by putting away items such as cords, boxes, or anything else that may become an obstacle.
- Conduct regular maintenance to replace damaged flooring, sidewalks, and curbs.
- Maintain good lighting in walking areas inside and outside. If outdoor lights are on a timer, ensure to adjust them throughout the year as the daylight hours change.
- Minimize distractions – not looking down at a cellphone or other device while walking and looking ahead to anticipate any tripping hazards.
Walking surfaces can easily become slippery from wet surfaces, rugs with poor grip, or shoes with poor traction. Quick clean up and awareness techniques can be helpful in reducing slips.
- Keep a regular housekeeping schedule to keep floors clean and free from debris.
- Have “wet floor” signs handy and ready to use in case of spills or other wet conditions.
- Take note of the weather and have a plan in place for rainy days. For example, extra mats for entrances and a place for workers to place umbrellas.
- Workplaces in colder climates that are prone to snow and ice should have an ice mitigation plan that includes de-icing and snow removal.
- Floor coverings should have enough grip to prevent movement when walked on.
- Workers should wear shoes with proper grip and traction.
When most people think of a fall hazard, they probably picture someone working at height and wearing a fall arrest harness but fall hazards can exist for low-risk environments as well.
- Do not use a phone while walking up or down stairs.
- Keep hands free and do not block visual field when walking up or down stairs.
- Use hand rails when available.
- Ensure changes in elevation, such as edges of stairs and curbs, are clearly marked. This can be done by using brightly colored tape or paint.
Regular site inspections can help identify recurring hazards and prevent possible injuries. Site specific inspection checklists are useful to track preventative actions.
Should you need help preparing inspections checklists, training your site inspectors, and conducting site inspections, contact us at 562.495.5777 or Courtney Hansen, Associate at NV5, Courtney.Hansen@NV5.com .
More information on how to protect workers from slips, trips, and falls can be found in the OSHA Standards: 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D (General Industry) and 29 CFR 1926 Subparts C, L, M, and X (Construction). For California employers, more information can be found in the Cal/OSHA standards: Title 8 CCR Subchapter 7, Group 1, Article 4 (General Industry) and Title 8 CCR Subchapter 4, Articles 18-25 (Construction).