Four Tips to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents at the Office

It's officially springtime, which means increased rainfall for seasonal climates. Although temperatures are warming up, the characteristic rainy weather can be detrimental to slick lobby floors. Corporate offices designed with tiles or hardwoods are especially susceptible to hidden puddles from dripping coats and umbrellas. Sometimes, a modern office aesthetic mixed with inclement weather results in workplace falls and injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private-industry employers reported 229,190 cases of falls, slips, and trips in 2013 alone. Approximately 327,060 cases reportedly involved sprains, strains, and tears, and 170,450 were related to back injuries.

Rather than remodel or incur costly medical bills, consider implementing the following strategies to keep employees attentive and unharmed at work.

Educate on Safe Practices
The best way to prevent slips is through encouragement and awareness. Employees are more vulnerable to accidents when rushing in and out of the office. Practice a relaxed schedule that allows employees to work eight-hour days at their leisure, within reasonable time constraints. For instance, some employers authorize workers to come in any time before 9 a.m., as long as they work a full eight-hour workday. Clock-in flexibility discourages employees from rushing on foot and also diminishes the probability for traffic accidents during the morning commute.

Promote Weather Awareness
In a regularly rainy or snowy climate, residents are conditioned to expect slick lobby floors. However, sending out an email for an impending storm is always appreciated. Employees can prepare adequately with the proper waterproof gear and rubber-soled footwear. High heels don't suffice in slippery conditions. If your office enforces a strict dress code, provide cubbies or lockers for employees to store their outerwear each morning.

Equip Your Office
Weather-related puddles are more obvious and avoidable with the appropriate signage. Facility managers should post caution flags to warn employees of potentially hazardous floors. Further, preventative equipment can eradicate slippery messes before they occur. Commercial floor mats help soak up incoming rainwater from shoes and outerwear. Some offices may choose to install umbrella stands, which encase wet umbrellas with protective coverings before they have a chance to create further perils throughout the office. Regardless of your facility size, employees appreciate services designed to keep them safe.

Address Accidents
Don't ignore an accident after it occurs, regardless of the extent of related injuries. Although documenting each minor mishap is somewhat overzealous, seemingly small incidents can prove serious over time. For instance, an employee who falls on her back and recovers quickly might encounter hindering medical issues down the road, possibly making desk work painful. A life-threatening head injury could surface hours after a slip and potentially pose life-threatening risks if not addressed immediately. Err on the side of caution at all times. Even if an employee seems OK, it's best for him, and your business, that he consult a medical professional as soon as possible. Aside from providing the appropriate medical attention to employees who have fallen, let associates know of incidents without naming names. Providing real-life examples motivates co-workers to take facility safety seriously.

Accidents happen, and not every weather-related puddle or spilled mess can be addressed immediately. Observing the aforementioned practices and installing safety products is part of proper facility management and is your best plan of action for a healthy, happy workplace -- no matter the forecast.

Jennifer McCarrick is the Content Coordinator for Eagle Mat, a commercial floor mat company dedicated to providing preventative safety materials that decrease workplace accidents.

Posted by Jennifer McCarrick on Mar 30, 2015