Slips, trips and falls are a leading cause of injury and death for workers. In fact, falls to a lower level are the second most common cause of workplace deaths, surpassed only highway crashes according to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts 2017.
Often, injuries sustained in a fall result in traumatic brain injuries and other long-term disabilities. Workers’ Compensation costs for falls average more than $45,000 per person in 2014, a lack of proper fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation by OSHA
Hundreds of construction workers die as a result of a fall every year – more than seven times the rate of other workers – and 42% of all construction industry fatalities involved falls. But it’s not just construction workers who are at risk. Falls can happen in any industry – even sales, financial, retail, and office work.
As a person ages their risk of becoming injured in a slip, trip or fall increase significantly. This is because a person’s ability to maintain balance is diminished; in addition, muscle control, vision, and range of motion decrease simultaneously. As more and more employees are choosing to delay retirement – controlling this important facet of slip, trip, and fall risk is critical to safety managers. Periodically evaluating job descriptions to determine if accommodations or alternative scheduling is necessary is an important part of controlling slip, trip and fall injuries among the aging workforce.
According to OSHA, four risk categories affect slips, trips, and falls:
- Environment 3. Work Practices
- Equipment 4. Individual Behavior
Nothing has more impact on safety in the workplace than individual behavior. For example, how is it possible that something we do every day and take for granted – such as walking – can result in a serious injury in the workplace? It’s often due to distraction. Employees should be instructed to keep their heads up and phones put away when walking the aisles at work.
It is also important to identify hazards in the workplace before they become a problem. Hazards include:
- Clutter on the floor 5. Improper Footwear
- Poor lighting 6. Uneven surfaces
- Unsecured cords 7. Missing Handrails
- Spills 8. Damaged Stairs
The good news is that slips, trips and falls are 100% preventable. Instruct workers in proper use of equipment and work practices. Work to ensure that affected employees have a firm grasp on proper work practices. Visit worksites where employees work at height often to ensure effectiveness of controls. Whenever a hazard is identified take prompt steps to eliminate or control it.
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