Slip And Fall Injuries At Work

Slips and falls have long been one of the main causes of work-related injuries in almost every industry. The results of a slip or fall can range from minor to severe and it can affect anyone. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerns itself with the health and safety of workers and tries to put rules and regulations in place to minimize the chances that these types of accidents will happen.

Statistics on Slips and Falls

While slips and falls are rarely fatal, they do occur and OSHA has released a number of statistics on these fatal injuries. They found that:

  • A fall relates to 11% of fatal injuries in men and 5% in women.
    While fatal injuries are rare, slips and falls are the number one reason for lost working days (65% of working days)
  • Half of all deaths in a home are caused by falls.
  • The CDC reports that there are some 30,208 deaths by accidental falls each year.
  • 60% of deaths due to falls happen in people over the age of 75.

Other interesting statistics were also reported, including:

  • There are some 25,000 injuries from falls each day.
  • The cost of slips and falls is around $60 billion each year.

Finally, information has been provided on the connection between slips, falls and flooring by the National Floor Safety Institute that states that 2 million slip and fall injuries each year are directly related to flooring, which is something that has been confirmed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Areas of Concerns for Businesses and Organizations

There are a number of particular areas where organizations and businesses must take care to protect their employees. These include:

  • Outdoor surfaces like sidewalks, parking lots and walkways. A huge number of accidents happen here, particularly when the elements, such as snow, ice and rain make them more slippery.
  • Stairs and steps. Falls down the stairs often lead to devastating injuries. While they are seen as non-slip areas, general wear and tear can actually make them very slippery. Carpeted stairs can pose even more danger as they can cause people to trip.
  • Pool decks. Because people don’t wear shoes and there is a lot of water, pool decks are highly dangerous.
  • Locker rooms. These areas often get wet, depending on the facilities in which they are. Additionally, people often clutter the floor with bags and items of clothing and this increases the risk of slipping and tripping.
  • Entryways. These are high traffic areas and many injuries occur here. This is in part due to the debris and water that are tracked in by footwear, which lead to slippery floors.

How to Prevent Slips and Falls

All businesses have to uphold the rules set out in the various OSHA standards. Essentially, this means that a building owner or business has a duty of care towards those who access the site, be they employees or visitors. To make sure a business meets all the standards, they should focus on various elements:

  • Outdoor surface: all holes, divots or cracks should be repaired as soon as possible. It is also important to identify any elevated or compressed areas. If these elevation changes are greater than an inch, they must be marked and repaired straight away. Additionally, extra attention should be paid during the winter in removing snow and ice and applying salt. Keeping a log of who performed these duties and when is vital.
  • Stairs and steps: These should be kept clear and clean at all times. They should also be maintained and any damage should be repaired. Handrails should be installed along every staircase. If there are loose tiles or torn carpet pieces, these should be marketed and replaced.
  • Moisture: Moisture is a leading cause of slips and it can be present in many different locations. The best way to remove moisture is by mopping. A schedule should be maintained and logged so it is always clear when an area has to be checked. Additionally, if moisture collects anywhere, signs should be placed to warn of the hazard. Mats are also very beneficial, particularly for doorways. These will stop some of the moisture from spreading to the floor. However, mats can pose a tripping hazard.

It is also vital to make sure slippery areas can be identified easily. This can be achieved through cones and movable signs. However, permanent signs can also be employed and should always be present in locker rooms and pool decks, as well as any area where elevation differences exist. Furthermore, areas that require permanent hazard signs should always be well-lit.

Another integral part to preventing slips and falls is cleaning. Areas where moisture has a tendency to collect should be mopped regularly. However, mopping and further cleaning should be done routinely across the facility. During cleaning, removable hazard signs should be used to warn people of potential dangers. Additionally, every employee should take responsibility for the removal of clutter, particularly those which they bring in themselves, such as bags and coats.

Finally, whenever possible, businesses should ensure that their staff always wear appropriate footwear. All individuals employed inside a facility should wear closed toed shoes. This greatly reduces the risk of tripping and slipping. Furthermore, should something fall, injuries will be greatly reduced.

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