Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls at Work

Work-related falls can happen in any industry, including construction, office, and warehouse environments. Falls, slips, or tripping accidents can be costly to employers and employees. While accidents can be prevented, it helps to understand why they happen and how to avoid them.

Slip Hazards
Wet floors, oily spills, and ice or mud all contribute to slipping hazards. When a spill occurs, personnel must be able to clean it or report the problem immediately. Large wet floor signs or cones will alert others to spills. Also have mops or wet vacs accessible for cleaning.

Place anti-slip mats in entrances and any areas where there is a potential for oil, grease, or water accumulation. If the edges of a mat begin curling, replace the mat to prevent a potential trip.

Wet or slippery floors may become a frequent issue in warehouses — rain or snow is easily tracked inside by employees or material handling equipment. Oils and grease from machinery or stored materials can also add to the risk of slipping. Warehouse and construction employers also need to consider slip-resistant footwear to reduce the risk of injury from slips.

Industrial-grade floor mats provide a safer surface in environments where there is a higher risk for floors becoming slippery. Grooved or patterned mats add traction. Certain drainage styles help keep liquids off the surface. Workers must also watch for loose carpet or floor tiles, which increase the risk of slips. Employees should be directed to report problems quickly to reduce the chance of an accident occurring.

Trip Hazards
Trips often are caused by cluttered floors or poor visibility. Be sure to provide workers with appropriate storage areas for items such as trash cans and personal belongings.

Extension cords running across a walkway can also be a source of trips. Ensure materials do not pile up around work areas or high traffic walkways. Full or empty boxes need to be stored immediately after use. Allowing tools or materials to spill into walkways can lead to an accident. Bright lighting in aisles also reduces the potential for a fall.

One trip hazard that may be overlooked is holes in the flooring. Openings must be covered to keep workers from tripping or falling through. Keep holes covered or barricaded to prevent the risk of accidents.

Fall Hazards
Falls are a leading cause of injury on construction sites, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Falls often occur when workers skip important safety measures and can occur in any industry when workers are not taking precautionary steps. Materials or supplies on high cabinets can pose a problem. Have sturdy ladders or stepstools for climbing purposes so workers do not use desks or chairs to reach them.

A wooden ladder propped against a shelf is not a safe solution. Rolling platform ladders may provide one answer to shelving issues. Ensure that industrial ladders are available and used properly. The weight rating for the ladder must also be considered. When used properly, personal fall arrest equipment also offers excellent protection and using edge protection systems is a good choice.

OSHA says that fall protection is required when workers are working above the ground or floor level. The regulations vary for both commercial and residential work. In general industry, employees must wear fall protection when working at elevations of 4 feet or higher; it is 5 feet for shipyard workers and 6 feet in the construction industry. Along with following the safety requirements, rules for using safety devices must be followed.

According to OSHA, slipping, tripping, or falling make up the largest portion of all accidents in general industry. Having the right safety products and equipment available helps to keep workers safe. Train employees in the correct use of personal protective equipment. With the correct safety items, training, and enforcement, accidents can be greatly reduced.

Stefan Trask works as a Web Content Editor for Northern Safety. It is one of the largest privately held companies that specialize in safety supplies, along with other industrial supplies.

Posted by Stefan Trask on Sep 15, 2015

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