In 2011, work injuries classified as slip, trips and falls accounted for the second-highest incident rate of worker injuries in the US, just behind overexertion/bodily reaction, according to a report produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are a number of reasons why slips and falls occur more frequently than other types of injuries. To begin with, walking is an activity that virtually all employees must do at some point during the work day. Few employees stay seated during the entire day. At some point, workers must get up to access files, deliver reports, go to lunch, etc.
The frequency of walking within any workplace simply provides more opportunities for someone to trip and fall. Since most of us do so much walking, we really don’t pay much attention when we walk around the office, so we often aren’t aware of situations that make walking more risky, like trip hazards or slippery floors. Secondly, some walking involves going up and down stairs which provide additional tripping hazards as well.
Other factors that affect trip and slip exposures are walkway conditions. Smooth walk surfaces may be very clean and produce a very clean appearance, but they can also be very slippery. Smooth surfaces can become even more dangerous when materials are spilled on them. Spills of any type should be cleaned up immediately with warning cones around the area until the clean-up is complete. Lighting in hallways and stairwells can also be critical to avoiding slips, trips and falls. Dark stairways are particularly conducive to tripping, so companies should make sure all of their stairwells are well lit.
Perhaps the single most important factor for avoiding slips, trips and falls is management and employee safety awareness. Everyone in the company must focus on safety-not just the safety managers. Everyone should be instructed to report unsafe situations. If they notice slick floors or torn carpet, they should report it to the appropriate department to get the problem corrected. Periodically, a safety team should walk the workplace to identify potential hazards, especially from slips, trips or falls. Only when everyone sees part of their job as being focused on safety will a company eliminate many of its work injuries.
Western Growers Insurance Services is a full lines insurance agency with safety consultants that can assist you with inspecting your property or providing safety training for your employees. If you need more information regarding safety training, inspections or any other insurance needs, please contact Greg Nelson, director of commercial lines at (949) 885-2287.
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