Workplace Hazards: Slip, Trip and Fall
It’s a situation no business owner wants — a person slips on a wet floor or a piece of ice and takes a tumble. Or, maybe someone trips over debris or an exposed object and falls, resulting in a minor injury. In a busy world where we juggle several tasks at once, it’s important to prioritize keeping the workplace safe for everyone. It could even mean the survival of your business.
Falls are among the most common causes of work-related injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27 cases of falls, slips and trips occur out of every 10,000 full-time workers. In the retail sector alone, 34,200 work days were lost due to injuries suffered through falls in the workplace.
This information is designed to address housekeeping practices that form a comprehensive slip, trip and fall risk control program — so you can avoid unexpected accidents and keep yourself and your employees safe.
How to Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls at Work
Good housekeeping is more than an industry best practice, it can help reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls. And while there may not be a formal training guideline for preventing these accidents, there are some health and safety precautions designed to educate employees about good housekeeping techniques. Let’s take a look at what causes slips, trips and falls.
What are workplace slips?
A slip is a loss of traction caused by too little friction between your feet and the walking surface, which is one of the most common causes of workplace slipping. Some of the conditions that can lead to slips are:
- Wet, waxed or dirty floors
- Uneven surfaces
- Weather hazards such as rain, ice or snow
- Smooth-soled shoes
- Ground clutter and debris
What are workplace trips?
Trips, on the other hand, are the result of your foot unexpectedly hitting an object as you move, causing you to lose balance. These are likely to occur when objects are exposed at ground level — like uneven sidewalks or twisted electrical cords — without sufficient warning signs to notify people nearby.
What are workplace falls?
Falling can be exemplified in a variety of ways but ultimately, a fall is a loss of balance after moving away from your center of gravity.
Preventing slips, trips and falls is easiest when employees are well notified of protocols — posting signs (like "Wet - Slippery Floor"), reporting unusual conditions and knowing what to do when there is a spill are essential housekeeping tasks for effective risk assessments.
Good housekeeping reduces the chance of a slip or fall at a facility. Before allocating funds to replace flooring or purchasing materials to reduce slips, trips and falls, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are spills cleaned up immediately?
- Are signs used to notify others of hazards?
- Do I have a designated spill control clean-up kit?
- Are absorbent materials available for soaking up spills?
Overlooking the details of reading labels or not having spill control kits available can increase chances of slip and fall injuries. The following checklist can be used to assess housekeeping best practices. A “No” answer indicates further investigation is warranted.