Slips, trips, and falls unfortunately happen far too often working in the construction industry. Lack of awareness, not paying attention, and minimal safety precautions in the workplace can result in many injuries for workers. You lose your focus for one second and boom you’re mid air and can’t stop yourself before slamming into the ground. The outcome of a fall could be minor with little to no scratches or bruises. On the other hand, the injury can be very severe and worst case scenario lead to an accidental death.
Slips, trips, and falls are more dangerous than most of us realize. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips, and falls account for 15% of accidental deaths per year, the second-leading cause behind motor vehicles. This is an alarming statistic that puts into perspective just how harmful these accidents are.
Although it is difficult to predict and nearly impossible to stop one from a slip, trip, or fall, there are precautions that can be taken to lessen the chance of an incident occurring. First, pointing out the major causes of these accidents is important and can serve as a guideline for workers to be aware of what they should be watching out for. One of the leading causes of a trip, slip, or fall is the walking surface the employees are working on.
Floors where these accidents commonly arise from are the following:
- Wet or greasy floors
- Floors with wood dust or powder
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Polished or freshly waxed floors
- Loose flooring, carpeting, or mats
Slippery surfaces are very sneaky and hard to notice. Living in Buffalo, we endure very long and cold winters every year, so the majority of us are familiar with what black ice is. However, if you are unaware, black ice or clear ice, is a thin coating of highly transparent ice that blends in on roads and other surfaces. It is extremely dangerous and a big cause of many slips and falls for people in the winer time. Suspending use of these areas outside where there is black ice or any ice in general that can cause one to slip will help control work injuries.
In addition to outdoor slippery surfaces, indoor slippery surfaces have time and time again lead to injuries. Due to this, indoor control measures to reduce the incidence of slips and falls should not be taken lightly. A very simple tactic where this can be accomplished is as easy as putting up a wet floor sign. It should be enforced in the workplace that putting up a wet floor sign is a task that must be done and cannot be forgotten about. It is unacceptable behavior for employees to be lazy and not feel like doing the extra step of putting up a wet floor sign when assigned to the task of cleaning the floor. Making others aware that the floor is slippery with a wet floor sign could reduce the chance of a worker slipping and becoming injured.
Trips most commonly happen as a result of clutter, obstacles, equipment, and materials blocking up aisles, entranceways, and stairways. Being organized and staying organized is highly effective for employees in the workplace to avoid getting injured, but also perform better on their work.
Some tips to avoid trips are the following:
- Avoid stringing cords, cables, etc. from being in any hallways or aisles
- In office areas, avoid leaving boxes, files, or briefcases in the aisles
- Encourage safe work practices, such as closing file cabinet drawers after use and picking up loose items from the floor
- Conduct periodic inspections for slip and trip hazards
Lastly, three final tips that are extremely helpful in avoiding a trip, slip, or fall are the following:
1) Having proper lighting – making sure the workplace is well lit is very critical.
2) Proper shoes can play a big part in preventing falls – Shoelaces must always be tied correctly and employees are expected to wear footwear appropriate for the duties of their work task.
3) Humans must practice their awareness and pay attention to their surroundings – A lot of the time, accidents happen out of an individuals control. Although, many other times, these accidents result from typical human nature. For instance, being distracted by random thoughts, multitasking, being in a hurry, or walking/running too fast are common causes of incidents. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to stay focused and pay attention to their surroundings and the tasks they are working on.