OSHA estimates that slips, trips and falls cause approximately 15% of accidental deaths. Second only to motor vehicle accidents. They also account for between 12% and 15% of Workers’ Compensation costs. The average cost for one disabling injury now approaching $30,000.
From a regulatory standpoint, there are two types of falls. They are:
1. On same level: high frequency, low severity
2. From elevations: low frequency, high severity
The primary contributing factors, are:
- Wet, slippery, oily floors/stairs.
- Loose, irregular surfaces, such as rocks.
- Insufficient light.
- Uneven walkways or sidewalks.
- Shoes with slick soles or raised heels.
- Moving too fast.
- Carrying items (impair balance, obstruct vision).
- Objects on the floor (e.g., paperclips, food).
- Shifting floor tiles.
- Not watching while walking/moving.
- Spilled liquids.
- Cords across walkways.
There are four steps we can take to help eliminate these types of injuries:
1. Find the problem/hazard. Ask yourself:
- Is the area wet, slippery, or cluttered?
- Are employees moving too quickly?
- Is the area poorly lit?
- Are stairs steep or in poor condition?
- Is the problem area near the area high-traffic?
- Is the area properly lit?
- Are employees wearing proper footwear?
- Are “wet floor” signs in place?
- Are floors being mopped one-half at a time?
- Is walking surface more slippery due to its construction?
- Is area outside and subject to weather?
If possible, eliminate or control the hazard immediately (e.g., having spills wiped up).
If not possible, take steps to alert people and then determine what can be done to eliminate or control the hazard.
- Ensure the hazard/problem was repaired, eliminated or controlled.
- Does the area have to be checked periodically to ensure the hazard/problem does not return?
- Determine if any training is required for affected employees.
- Should appropriate signage be posted?
- Ensure walkways and stairways are well lit.
- Portable ladders should be stable and secure when used, and support a minimum of 250 lbs.
- Have “wet floor” signs posted where necessary.
- Apply non-skid coating or floor mats in areas where floors are likely to be slippery or wet.
- Encourage employees, residents and guests to report hazardous situations as soon as possible.
- Train employees to look for slip/trip/fall hazards.
- Situations that are identified as hazardous should be investigated and corrected as soon as possible.
OSHA and MIOSHA