In part II of our 2-part blog series, we address the third top injury event in the workplace, why it happens and what can be done to decrease its occurrence.
Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls (STFs)
When people think about dangers in the workplace, they often underestimate the impact of STFs. Not only are these accidents major causes of injuries leading to missed work, but they can also be deadly. According to OSHA, slips trips and falls are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities, resulting in 15% of all accidental deaths. (Safety Online Worker). For workers in hospital environments, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  states that the incidence rate of lost-workday STF injuries was 38.2 per 10,000 employees, which was 90% greater than the average rate for all other private industries combined (20.1 per 10,000 employees). STFs as a whole are the second most common cause of lost-workday injuries in hospitals. (CDC)
10 Proactive Prevention Tips
While slips, trips and falls can often be attributed to carelessness or clumsiness, the good news is that most accidents are preventable. It is critical to frequently survey your work environment to avoid potential issues. Here are 10 proactive prevention tips to help keep your employees and customers safe and out of harm’s way. (Interstate Restoration)
- Keep walking surfaces clean and free of clutter. An unobstructed path minimizes the opportunity for employees to trip over unexpected objects and reduces the potential for falls.
- Keep stairwells clear, well-lit and free from unsecured objects. Stairs are a common area for falls in the workplace and additional care is often required to reduce the risk of injury.
- Power, internet and phone cords can often create a sea of obstacles for employees and customers. Try to run cables behind walls or under carpets to keep them hidden. Install power outlets, internet connections and phone jacks in easily-accessible locations to avoid running cables across walkways.
- Proper lighting inside and outside of the workplace can help illuminate common areas where employees or customers may trip or fall. More often than not, steps or other hazards are hidden in darkness or shadows. Installing spotlights, step lighting, reflective tape, etc. helps highlight problems areas and can reduce STFs.
- Using clear, well-placed signage can help call attention to potential problem areas. A sign indicating a step, gap, uneven ground or loose rocks will call attention to the hazard and increase awareness and attentiveness.
- Providing ways for employees to reach heights safely, such as ladders and accessible step stools, can minimize falls. By ensuring supportive options are present, there is less chance that an employee (or customer) will decide to rely on unstable chairs, desks or tables.
- Make sure there are no cracks or holes in building flooring or in the pavement outside. Repair any problem areas immediately and be sure to place warning signs in/on/around areas that need to be fixed.
- Rugs are an easy solution on otherwise slippery surfaces, but be sure to add non-skid padding beneath all rugs.
- In the event a spill occurs, immediately place warning signs around the hazard, then tackle the cleanup process as soon as possible.
- Make sure employees wear footwear that is appropriate for specific work conditions. Shoes with proper arch support should be provided to facilitate optimal balance at all times, as well as shoes with good traction to avoid slipping.