ASSE urges employers to take steps to reduce costly slip, fall injuries
Slips, trips and falls in the workplace continue to be the cause of many injuries and illnesses. With winter weather creating more possibilities for slippery surfaces, the American Society of Safety Engineers is urging employers to prevent these costly workers' compensation claims.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, floors, walkways and ground surfaces were the source of 20 percent of injuries requiring all days away from work in 2007. Slips, trips and falls also add up to a significant amount of direct workers' comp costs. According to Liberty Mutual's 2009 Workplace Safety Index, disabling workplace injuries from same-level falls had a direct cost of $6.2 billion in workers' comp in 2007, ranking second to overexertion as a leading cause of disabling injury.
According to the ASSE, four factors can contribute to slip, trip and fall hazards -- workers, machines/equipment, work environments, and management. Workers may be prone to slip, trip and fall hazards by not using equipment properly, fatigue, risk-taking behavior and/or inadequate training. Environmental factors, such as snow, ice, wind and poor lighting, may also play a role.
The ASSE recommends employers implement a few simple strategies to prevent slips, trips and falls. Employers should:
- Remove slip, trip, and fall hazards from the work area. This is especially important in high-trafficked areas.
- Establish a no-running policy. Although employees may need to work at a quick pace in the retail, hospitality and restaurant industries, making sure that workers do not run can prevent injuries and illnesses due to slips and falls.
- Make sure workers wear proper footwear. Slip-resistant footwear should be considered where necessary, such as footwear with spiked or studded soles that can improve traction on ice.
- Maintain good housekeeping procedures. Make sure that all walking surfaces are kept free of spills, water, oil and any other substances that may affect the traction of the surface.
- Encourage employees to report any spills immediately. Provide adequate signage regarding hazards such as spills, uneven surfaces, debris, icy sidewalks, smooth concrete and other risks. In addition, make sure your company has a process that documents incidents and reports slip and fall hazards.
- Train staff on how to properly clean/remove slip, trip and fall hazards. Also ensure that staff and management are trained in slip, trip and fall prevention. Workers should resume work only after a hazard has been removed or resolved.
- Inspect drainage systems. To prevent surface water accumulation in areas that can lead to slips, trips and falls, ensure adequate drainage systems and pumps are in place.
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February 8, 2010
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