Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls

Did you know slips, trips, and falls are second only to automobile accidents in causing personal injury? On stairways alone, falls result in over 2 million disabling injuries annually. There are thousands of minor injuries caused by slips, trips, and falls each year. These facts are no less true in Oklahoma cities and towns. Most alarming is the fact that more than 1000 deaths are recorded each year due to falls on the job. Today’s discussion will cover what we can do to prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace and at home.

Slips occur when there is too little friction between the person’s feet and the walking surface. Many factors can cause a slip. Ice, oil, water, cleaning fluids, and other slippery substances are probably the most obvious causes. However flooring may be inappropriate; perhaps it is a slick material or the person who slips may not be wearing the proper shoes. To prevent slips, if possible avoid walking in areas that pose slipping hazards. Always promptly clean up spills. Better yet, prevent the spills in the first place. If an area is a chronic problem, re-route foot traffic in order to avoid it. If flooring is a problem, replace it with a non-slip surface material. Always follow the municipalities safe shoe policy. Most safe shoe policies require a slip resistant sole. In icy or wet weather slow down, take extra care, and use railings to help maintain your balance.

Trips occur when a person’s foot contacts an object and they are thrown off balance. The main cause of tripping is obvious – anytime something is in a walkway it could cause someone to trip. Another culprit is an object that protrudes into the walkway – perhaps material stored low on a shelf or a file cabinet that is not closed. Poor lighting and uneven walking surfaces also cause trips. Watch out for single steps leading up or down to a different floor level. Prevention of trips is simple but does require diligence. Keep objects that could cause someone to trip out of the way. Repair uneven flooring, paint it or mark it to draw attention to it if you can not repair it. And install proper lighting in low-lighted areas where there is foot traffic.

Falls can be caused by a number of things. Slips and trips frequently result in a fall. Falls also occur for other reasons. Improper use of ladders and scaffolding can result in a fall; usually a vary serious one. Falls happen when people climb objects without using fall protection equipment. Don’t risk serious injury or even death by taking shortcuts. If you are working on a ladder, scaffolding, or other elevated platform, make sure you know the requirements for using them safely. Always use fall protection equipment when it is required.

Slips, trips, and falls cause numerous injuries everyday in our cities and towns. But they are among the easiest hazards to correct. Take time to look around your worksite for these hazards and work to eliminate and prevent them. Take care not to cause any slip, trip, or fall hazards as you go about your daily activities. Don’t let an injury from a slip, trip, or fall keep you from enjoying all that life has to offer.

Contact OMAG Loss Control Services if you have questions or suggestions for other topics related to Municipal Workplace Safety Issues. 1 (800) 234-9461 or email kprichard@omag.org.


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