An Object Lesson in Slip-and-Fall Safety

Alert OH&S readers know G4S Wackenhut decided to test a new brand of slip-resistant shoes on about 800 of its security officers for 120 days earlier this year. The company conducted its first wear test after an analysis of its worker's compensation spending made it imperative to reduce slip-and-fall injuries, Director of Safety Frank Knapfel said.

Based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the company has 39,000 employees in its security service division and more than 110 offices. The Cincinnati and Fort Myers offices were chosen because the analysis showed the slip-and-fall problems were not primarily linked to ice and snow, and because more slips and falls were happening in Florida than anywhere else. Why was that? "Stepping out of cars, and in heat shoes may wear down faster," Knapfel answered. "What I'm getting at is it wasn't just an ice and snow issue for us. We had to look at the whole program. We decided to do it in two rotations like that. Fortunately, when we started the program up in Cincinnati, we did have a lot of ice and snow for the first month and a half. It kind of showed us that we were at least headed in the right direction. We're fast approaching our third month right now. What we were looking to do was have about a 120-day pilot program to see how the program performs, and from then, make a decision if we should roll it out to the rest of the company."

The company already had written procedures in place and policies on "watching where you walk" because so much of the work involves employees conducting patrols on clients' premises. In addition to the new shoes, Knapfel is developing a written safety program for this topic and has created three safety videos.

Reader Bill Warnock offered this comment about the program:

"That was a neat article. If you revisit this issue in a future issue, please mention the safety need for 'double knotting' the shoestrings into square knots.

When I went through Air Police Academy at Lackland AFB, TX in 1968 they told of a New York Police Detective chasing an armed robber. The robber threw away his handgun while on the run. The detective’s shoestring came undone, stepped on it fell and hit his head on a building, knocking him unconscious. The bad guy came back to the downed detective, took his revolver, shot and killed him with three shots to the head.

We were shown the photographs of the shooting; from all angles. The morgue photographs were even more gruesome; a good portion of his face was blown away. It made a frightening impression!

When I went through the Hamilton County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Academy, I relayed that story and sometime later the very same photographs were obtained and made a part of the curriculum.

My thought reading the article was Wackenhut’s varied security missions where weapons are in many instances part of the duty accoutrements.

Jerry, in an industrial setting mission the very same thing could very well happen; minus of course the gunfire.

I look forward to the monthly OH&S Magazine. There is always something there I can use in my security consultancy."

Warm regards,

Posted by Jerry Laws on Aug 03, 2009