For the fourth week of safety month, we’re highlighting slips, trips, and falls. These incidents are some of the leading causes of workplace-related injuries and fatalities. Slips, trips, and falls are technically three distinct things, although they are often categorized together. Let’s define each term to differentiate each incident.
- Slips are a loss of balance caused by too little friction between your feet and the surface you walk or work on.
- Trips happen whenever your foot hits an object, and you are moving with enough momentum to be thrown off balance.
- Falls occur whenever you move too far off your center of balance. These types of accidents can result in injuries ranging from sprains and fractures to head injuries, lacerations, and back injuries. These can also be fatal.
Housekeeping is crucial to a safe workplace, and when done correctly, it can be effective in controlling and eliminating hazards. Good housekeeping practices are the first and most important step in preventing slips, trips, and falls. This includes:
- Cleaning up spills immediately
- Marking spills and wet areas
- Sweeping debris from floors
- Removing obstacles from walkways and keeping them free of clutter
- Securing mats, rugs, and carpets that do not lay flat or that move unintentionally
- Covering electrical cords and cables that cannot be eliminated
- Ensuring tools and equipment are orderly
- Securing material to racks and ensuring it does not overhang
Conditions of Floors, Stairs, and Ladders
Look for uneven walking surfaces and surfaces with limited or no traction. Stairs, ladders, and other elevated surfaces should be structurally sound and have the appropriate guardrails and handrails.
Weather can be unpredictable, so companies must have a plan to respond. No matter how well an area may have been cleared, snow, ice, and rainfall can still pose a slipping hazard. Another thing to consider is lighting conditions. Verify work areas and walkways are well lit within the facility. If lighting conditions are poor, it may be difficult to see obstacles that would not normally pose a risk for slips, trips, and falls.