Delivering a Workspace Free of Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls can happen in any workplace. Throughout your lifetime, you’ve likely seen someone slip, trip, or fall or even done so yourself. In fact, it’s probably happened so often you have lost track.
What you may not know, is that slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of employees missing work, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. As well, they are the leading cause of worker’s compensation claims and injuries for employees 55 and older. Slips, trips, and falls are likely to be the cause of decreased productivity, increased insurance costs, and time and dollar costs associated with replacing a good employee.
As a supervisor, it is your responsibility to understand and reduce the hazards which cause slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. It will save you stress and possibly save others’ lives.
Be a Better Supervisor
Unsafe Flooring and Surfaces
The first thing to look for when investigating unsafe conditions is unsafe flooring. Certain materials like marble, concrete, and ceramic can be especially slippery when wet. Highly polished floors, recently cleaned floors, and floors that accumulate debris or liquids are all hazards as well. Acknowledging these surfaces allows for everyone to know that they exist. Communication and signage like wet floor signs, can let everyone across the workplace know about these slippery workplaces to watch out for.
Surfaces can also cause trips and falls when there is damage or obstructions along pathways. Common examples of this would be cords, hoses, missing or damaged floor tiles and bricks, improper floor hole coverage, or open drawers.
The best way to reduce these hazards is to implement policies that prohibit careless actions like leaving these hazards about at the workplace. It may also help to hold regular talks about housekeeping or putting up posters to remind employees about their responsibility.
Unsafe Stairs and Railings
There are building codes dictating the height and depth of individual steps. There are also regulations on handrails for staircases. (Check your jurisidiction to find out the building codes in your area.)
These codes are meant to ensure the safety of everyone when transcending steps, but there are instances in which they fail. Buildings that aren’t up to code, have damaged steps or handrails, have blocked or cluttered steps, have slippery stairs, or have poorly lit stairwells all exponentially increase the risk of slips, trips, and falls.
As a supervisor, you reduce these risks by regularly checking stairwells and by communicating these hazards to employees. It is crucial that employees feel like they can report these hazards to you, so that both you and them can be safe. After knowing about these conditions, then actions like simple housekeeping can completely eliminate them from the worksite.
Not being able to see where you are going is an obvious slip, trip, and fall hazard. Poor lighting can happen when:
- there is not enough natural lighting or is restricted natural lighting (curtains are being used);
- there is insufficient artificial lighting installed;
- lightbulbs are too low wattage to provide sufficient lighting; or
- burnt out bulbs are replaced.
Insufficient lighting hides slip, trip and fall hazards; it can shade slippery surfaces, cover uneven flooring, or hide steps. On the flipside, too much lighting can blind people and prevent them from seeing hazards in their path.
Again, a strong communication network is important in reducing these hazards. It is crucial that employees report hazards to you so that you can take the appropriate actions to correct them.
You can also regularly check all parts of the workplace to ensure that it provides a safe environment for employees. Sometimes a remote area has a lightbulb burn out, and if it isn’t checked on then when someone enters that space they could slip, trip, or fall into a fatal injury.
Remember! Slips, trips and falls, although more common that we’d like to admin, can be prevented with proper training and good safety habits.