Falls represent the number one preventable cause of injury and death in the workplace. More than a million people suffer injuries and more than 16,000 people die as a result of falls in any given year. Obvious injuries occur from falls from six feet or more, but about 60 percent of all falls happen at the same level (e.g. tripping).
Many workers are injured every year due to slips, trips, or falls generated by improper walking and working surfaces. Most of these accidents can be prevented if proper safety precautions are initiated. Slips, trips, and falls can be caused by conditions such as ice, standing water, grease, polished floors, loose flooring or carpeting, uneven walking surfaces, poorly placed electrical cords, and damaged ladder steps.
Falls occur because of various factors; a slip, stumble, trip over an object, or a sudden quick movement throwing the body off balance.
Slips generally occur as a result of the loss of traction between a person’s foot and the walking surface. When loss of balance occurs, a fall results.
The controls needed to prevent these hazards are usually relatively simple, such as keeping walkways and stairs clear of debris, coiling up extension cords and hoses when not in use, keeping electrical and other wires out of the way, wearing appropriate footwear, and clearing parking lots, stairs, and walkways in snowy weather.
For these hazards, good housekeeping is the primary tool to prevent slips. Keeping floors clean and free of debris is important; however, the cleaning process can be part of the problem. When cleaning a hallway, only clean one side at a time, providing a dry path on the other side. Let it dry completely before cleaning the other side.
Mark, and if possible, block off the wet portion with proper signage and barriers. Also, mark any wet areas that are the result of a spill and clean them as soon as possible. For two reasons, remember to remove the signs and barriers as soon as the area is dry: First, after the sign is no longer required, it becomes a tripping hazard. Additionally, if signs are repeatedly left out when the floors are dry, they may eventually be ignored.
Here Are Some Tips to Prevent Tripping:
- Keep work areas and walking surfaces clean and free of clutter and debris. Keep work areas and hallways well lighted.
- Turn on lights or use a flashlight in unlit areas.
- Burned-out light bulbs should be replaced immediately.
- Maintain clear aisles and hallways, free of furniture and other obstacles.
- Close drawers (file or desk) and remove file boxes from around furniture and other areas where workers may walk.
- Do not run cords across walkways or aisles without taping to the floor or covering with a proper cord cover.
- Never cover with a rug or carpet.
- Make sure that you can see the way ahead.
- Do not carry or push things that obstruct your view of the travel path.
- Keep sidewalks, parking lots, and other walking surfaces in good condition and free of uneven surfaces such as cracks, bumps, or holes.
- Mark and barricade such hazards until they can be repaired.
- Keep stairs in good condition and clear of objects.
- Check treads for wear and if secure.
- Be sure handrails are in good condition and securely fastened.
- Secure loose flooring and carpets.
- Make sure rugs and mats are not turned up or folded over.
Personal Fall Prevention:
Not all workplaces can be changed, so there are several personal factors that workers need to remember to keep from falling.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Using proper equipment if you must work or reach a higher level, such as a ladder;
- Do not use chairs or tables.
- Walking at a safe pace, alert to any obstacles that may be ahead;
- Adjust pace and stride for the condition of the walking surface.
- Wearing proper footwear for the job and work surface conditions;
- Not carrying items that block the view ahead;
- Not jumping from heights; Climb or ease down.
- Promptly reporting any Slip Trip Fall (STF) hazards;
- Taking the time to pick up small debris items or cleanup minor spills;
- Never assume somebody else will take care of it.
- Using personal protective equipment where necessary;
- Using a flashlight to enter dark areas;
- Storing heavy items down low;
- Clean up any liquid spills right away.
- Take your time and pay attention to where you are going.
- Ensure things you are carrying do not prevent you from seeing obstructions or spills.
In summary, slips, trips, and falls are an inevitable risk in any workplace. But you can take steps to reduce risks and protect employees.
With traction and training, you can create a safer workplace for everyone.
A SPILL, A SLIP…A HOSPITAL TRIP!!
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