Fall Prevention Awareness Week
This year we refocus our attention on slips, trips, and falls during the week of September 23-29. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most incidents in general industry involve slips, trips, and falls. Such incidents cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicle accidents as a cause of fatalities1. Slips happen when there isn’t enough friction or traction between a person’s feet and the surface they are walking on. Common causes of slips include walking on wet or oily surfaces, loose or unanchored mats, and flooring that lacks the same degree of traction in all areas.
Trips happen when a person’s foot strikes an object, causing them to lose balance. Workers trip due to a variety of reasons, including clutter in walkways, poor lighting, uncovered cables, drawers being left open, wrinkled carpeting or rugs and uneven walking surfaces. Common areas of slips and trips include offices, shops, public walkways, parking lots, and steps.
Falls occur after someone has slipped or tripped and they tumble to the ground or to a lower surface. OSHA notes that the majority (67%) of falls happen on the same level resulting from slips and trips. The remaining 30% are falls from a height such as from a trailer floor, loading dock, a ladder or elevated walkway ¹.
Now here are some great tips on how to prevent these accidents from happening:
“1. Wear proper footwear.
This tip is simple enough, but is often overlooked. Encourage your team to wear comfortable, fitted footwear that has enough traction on the bottom.
2. Create traction.
It doesn’t take much for the ground to become slick, especially on sloped and smooth surfaces. Using anti-slip mats and tape can help to add traction when materials like dust and grease cannot be cleaned up or otherwise removed.
3. Keep it clean.
A clean workplace is usually a safe one too! Take the time to pick up boxes, ropes, and cords, and clean up spills to keep workers on their feet. This is especially true in work areas and in aisles.
4. See accidents before they happen.
Poor lighting in basements and stairways can cause anyone, at work or home, to misstep and trip. Adequate lighting makes it easier to avoid hazards (and also reduced eye fatigue). At home, leave a porch light on when leaving in the evening. You’ll be rewarded with a well-lit entryway when you return later that night.
5. Block off temporary trip hazards.
Use barricade tape, cones, and other floor safety products to restrict access to areas that present temporary slip, trip and fall hazards.
6. Mark out clear passageways.
Use floor marking tape to show where walkways are and that these areas should be kept clear. Tape out areas around swinging doors and stairways to help others avoid these hazards too.
7. Post safety signs to remind everyone of hazards and policies.
Posting the right safety signs will help to alert workers of trip and fall hazards, remind them to check ladders and scaffolding, and alert them to your policies for a clean workplace.
8. Gear up with the right PPE.
Fall arrest systems are important and essential parts of any fall prevention plan. Remind workers to wear the right PPE with OSHA compliant fall protection signs.
9. Inspect first, climb second.
Before you climb a ladder or scaffolding, inspect your set-up. Inspections require a critical examination from someone properly trained. If a ladder or scaffolding is in bad condition, tag it for repair or removal so no one will accidentally use it.
10. Train every employee to recognize and avoid slip, trip, and fall hazards.
Like any other safety hazard, slips, trips, and falls can be highlighted during safety training. Make sure that everyone can recognize and avoid slip, trip, and fall hazards and that they use PPE correctly when necessary.” ²