Why you should take slip, trip and fall prevention seriously
Last modified on March 11th, 2022
Slip, trip and fall prevention in the workplace
Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common workplace injuries — and they can also be among the costliest. That’s why preventing them should be a top priority for every organization. But it can be hard to know where to start.
We take a look at some of the most common workplace hazards that lead to these types of injuries to help you better identify them in your own workspace so you can create a prevention plan that works for you.
A fall injury can have lasting consequences for both employees and employers. They’re serious, and in some cases they might even lead to death. In fact, around 33,381 people die in the United States every year from a fall injury. Some industries have it even worse. In construction, falls are the most common cause of on-the-job fatalities.
Financial costs can be steep. It’s estimated that fall-related injuries cost $70 billion every year in workers’ compensation payouts and medical expenses. For the employers themselves, they’ll have to pay even more in lost revenue due to employees having to miss work.
Common slip, trip and fall hazards
Well over half of falls (67% to be exact) happen when the individual falls at the same level that they are standing on, as opposed to falling from an elevated surface (which causes the remaining 33%). This might go against what many people think about trips, slips and falls, but it’s important to know because it can help you better identify hazards and plan to prevent them.
Like many other workplace injuries, slips, trips and falls are mostly caused by sloppy workplace designs and poor practice. Hazards can be broadly separated into a few main categories:
- Floor surface hazards: Slippery surface areas can lead to a fall. That includes any oily or wet surfaces created after a spill that aren’t quickly cleaned or at least properly signposted. Loose rugs or mats can cause a tumble if employees aren’t careful.
- Obstructions: Anything that blocks a walkway, entrance ways or anywhere else that people regularly walk through could be a fall hazard. That might include drawers not being closed, uncovered cables that aren’t properly flagged or taped down, or even obstructions that keep employees from clearly seeing in front of them.
- Workspace design: One of the most important, especially when it comes to removing hazards, your workspace design itself might be encouraging trips and falls. Poor lighting in some areas might make it hard to see a tripping hazard, making employees unable to avoid them. Your walking surface might be uneven, too, which can disrupt someone’s balance and cause a fall accident.
Much of slip, trip and fall prevention comes down to properly training employees on best practices to make sure they don’t unnecessarily put themselves at risk. Others require you to take a close look at your workspace design and identify possible workplace hazards that way. You should conduct a thorough job hazard analysis to assess every aspect of every job within your organization to make your work area as safe as possible.
Some areas to focus your prevention efforts include:
- Good housekeeping: This one’s the simplest because it merely requires you and your employees to take good care of your work area. Ensure that all spills are cleaned immediately or, if you can’t clean them up right away, mark off wet/slippery areas so employees know to avoid them.
- Workspace design: It’s likely you’ll have to design your workspace in a way that promotes better workplace safety. Many falls happen from the same level. Make sure that all hallways and working areas are properly lit, and secure all rugs, mats and carpets with tacking or taping. It’s also a good idea to replace all worn out mats with newer ones with better traction. Being prepared with the right signage also helps prevent slips, trips and falls at work.
- Training: Sometimes, slips, trips and falls happen because employees aren’t looking where they’re going and aren’t careful about what’s in front and around them. Train your employees to walk at an appropriate pace and hold the handrail no matter what they’re doing, and encourage them to pay attention whenever they’re walking from one place to another.
It’s hard to completely guard against slips, trips and falls. But we want you to be prepared if one of your employees gets injured on the job. The team at FFVA Mutual has developed this Trending Topic sheet with resources in one place to help prevent these types of injuries. You can also check out our safety training courses we offer free for policyholders.
Are you an employer looking for workers’ comp coverage, get in touch today to get started with a quote!