Slips, trips and falls are the most common causes of work accidents in all industries, from heavy labor to office jobs. Many of them have serious consequences like broken bones or even a concussion. Such accidents can also lead to long-term incapacity for continuing work. It is essential that the risk of slipping or tripping is considered in any occupational risk assessment. It is the employer’s duty to take steps to reduce the likelihood of any such event.
A trip occurs when the foot of a moving person encounters an obstacle, as a result of which it remains motionless and the body moves further, driven by force. The most common causes of tripping include:
- Cracks and indents
- Surface damage
- Items on the road
On the other hand, slipping occurs on a slippery surface, when the feet lose contact with the ground and begin to move faster than the rest of the body. The most common causes of slipping include:
- Spilled liquids
- Surface dust
- Icing on crossings
The condition of floors and passages in the workplace is vital when it comes to employee safety. Any workstation should have safe and comfortable access. Pedestrian roads should be made and marked in accordance with the abiding state’s standards and relevant regulations. An example is New York City’s strict rules on pedestrian streets.
The surface of roads, storage yards, parking lots, fire access roads and passages should be even and hard or paved and have an appropriate load capacity. In rooms and on roads located in construction facilities, floors should be stable, even, non-slip, non-dusting and resistant to abrasion and pressure. The surfaces of stairs, platforms and ramps should be slip-resistant, and in places where dust accumulation is possible – they should be openwork.
The surface becomes slippery when liquid is spilled on it or when there is a layer of liquid on it. Everything on the surface of the floor can be treated as contamination: water, oils, fats, dust, scattered small objects, snow and mud. If an employee happens to slip and fall on a property different from their employer’s, the person responsible for its maintenance and care can be financially responsible.
Dirt can also be caused by the production process or the result of equipment failure. It can be brought from the outside on the soles of shoes or find themselves on the surface by accident, like spilled coffee. The best way to avoid this type of incident is to take care of the technical condition of machines, arrange mats for wiping shoes at entrances, use spillage trays, etc.
If, as a result of technological processes, contamination is unavoidable, floors and passageways should be surfaced with non-slip materials and employees should be provided with appropriate footwear.
Cleaning methods should be adapted to the type of surface. Dry cleaning is best. Whenever it’s not possible, the wet surface should be immediately dried, preferably fenced off to protect people from entering a slippery surface. Cleaning should take place at times of minimum traffic, and places where floor cleaning is currently occurring should be separated with temporary barriers, while ensuring the possibility of walking through.
Behaviors and attitudes of employees have a huge impact on increasing or minimizing the risk of accidents at work. An important role is played by the manager. Henceforth, the rhythm of work should not force employees to rush or be distracted. In the case of manual transport work, the carried or transported load must not limit the visibility of the road on which the employee moves.
Not every accident can be avoided. However, more than half of all slip-ups and trip and falls are caused by a lack of safety protocol. Every forewarned employee is an injury less likely to happen.