Avoiding slips and falls in the workplace

Workplace accidents such as slipping on the ground or tripping over something increase when employees aren’t focused on the here and now. There also can be places in a facility where workers are more likely to trip. Trips are the second-leading cause of workers compensation claims, according to OHS Online, a workplace safety website.

Common spots where someone could trip and fall are spaces with uneven ground, including potholes or loose gravel or stones. Additionally, for those who work outdoors, exposed roots might lead to tripping hazards, or fallen, damp leaves may make workers slip and fall. In colder climes, many of these items will be buried under a layer of snow and ice.

It is best to remove as many of these hazards as possible. Snow and frost likely will be the most difficult to deal with as they will reappear each time it snows.

When advising workers about conditions outside, EHS Today recommends telling them to walk slowly and deliberately, be on the lookout for black ice and avoid carrying too many items at once.

Moving indoors
Indoor spaces present different concerns for tripping and falling. Signs warning about changes in surface elevations might be considered, along with creating ramps or other safe ways of entering or exiting a building.

Rain and snow can be concerns because they will leave wet tracks near entrances where someone could slip and fall. Providing mats for people to clean their boots is a good way of preventing slips like this. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recommends that mats be replaced periodically as they become old and worn. Additionally, ensure that mats are anchored to the ground so they won’t slide when someone steps on them.

Avoiding trips
Tripping indoors may result from poor lighting, according to CCOHS, so employers may want to replace light bulbs when it becomes necessary. Additional areas to watch for include cables that have been left uncovered and exposed. Even the cord for a boom box or other electronic device can be enough to cause someone to trip. Keeping floors clean and free from objects that could cause slips, trips or falls could be part of an general “good housekeeping” plan.

Cleaning up spills and debris as soon as possible is important as well. Workers sometimes trip on the lower levels of cabinets when the drawers are open. Depending on the job, leaving items or debris on walkways may pose a tripping or falling hazard.

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