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Identify and Eliminate Causes of Slips Trips and Falls

Originally posted by Chris Kilbourne on the Safetly Daily Advisor website.

Slips, trips, and falls are the third largest cause of workplace injuries, contributing to more than 100 million lost workdays and costing nearly $36 billion annually.

The Montana State Fund has identified five contributing factors for slips, trips, and falls:

  • Surface design. Slip resistance can have an important impact on preventing slips and falls. Slip resistance is measured by it static coefficient of friction (COF). OSHA recommends that walking surfaces have a COF of 0.5 for activities like walking on ramps, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects.
  • Surface conditions. Conditions vary depending on the environment and surface maintenance. Wet walkways present a serious risk, as do loose or torn carpeting, broken tiles, or curled edges on mats.
  • Surface and level changes. About 60 to 70 percent of slip, trip, and fall injuries occur on level walking surfaces. Walkers must adjust their gait every time a surface changes—for example, from tile  to carpet or from one type of carpet to another. The goal is to minimize these transitions.
  • Obstructions. Examples of hazardous obstructions include extension cords, furniture, scrap materials, and pallets. Good housekeeping and organizational strategies can eliminate obstruction-related falls.
  • Human factors. Age, physical impairments, gait, fatigue, inattention, and the general way people interact all play a role in slips, trips, and falls.

Good Housekeeping a Must

Your slips, trips, and falls prevention playbook should include a variety of approaches, but it must include meticulous housekeeping. For example, employees and maintenance personnel should be required to:

  • Clean up all spills immediately.
  • Plainly mark spills and wet areas before they are cleaned up or dry up.
  • Sweep or mop debris from floors.
  • Remove obstacles from walkways and keep them free of clutter.
  • Secure mats, rugs, and carpets that do not lie flat.
  • Close all file cabinets and storage drawers consistently.
  • Cover cables that are place over walkways.
  • Keep working and walking areas well lighted.

Maintenance policies and practices, proper flooring, appropriate footwear, and awareness training for employees are other important pieces in preventing slips, trips, and falls.