"Being in the prime of my youth and only being in the workforce for about ten years, I held the impression that only the elderly had to be concerned about slips, trips and falls. At my age I figured that I was just too alert for that sort of mishap, and besides even if I were to take a tumble then with my good health and agility it would be no big deal. This way of thinking certainly changed when I ended up on my back for six weeks recovering from a nasty fall I took while working at my job in a warehouse. As a result of my fall, I received a back injury that affected the discs in my lower back, which took six weeks of recovery, and I am told will most likely come back to haunt me in my later years. I now realize that age has nothing to do with the dangers of slips, trips and falls." Ken (age 35) Warehouse worker
Research shows that slip, trip and fall accidents have the highest rate of incidents that lead to personal injuries. Slips, trips and falls have been identified by the Bureau of State Risk Management as one of the top five causes of workers compensation claims. Accident prevention must be the top priority in the workplace, as well as in the home.
Slips are usually the result of not enough traction between the footwear of the individual and the walking surface. This usually causes the individual to be thrown backwards.
Slippery surfaces are a major factor contributing to slip accidents. They can occur in the workplace when the floors are not properly maintained, or where spills are not immediately attended to. Slippery surfaces can easily happen at home on freshly washed or highly polished floors. Patches of ice are also quite common outdoors and pose a hazard to pedestrians.
- In the workplace, those responsible for the health and safety of staff have to ensure that the workplace floors are kept in prime condition. A clean up procedure should be put in place that provides instruction to mitigate risks associated with slippery floors immediately following a spill or other condition that might create a slippery walking surface. Most workplaces require that anti-slip footwear be worn while in the workplace
- In the home environment, using mats in the entranceways to collect water and debris from footwear before it accumulates on bare floors helps to prevent them from becoming slippery
- In the outdoors environment, being alert of the walking conditions and taking extra precautions in inclement weather can help to avoid an accident. If walking outside a lot in slippery weather conditions, it is a good idea to purchase anti-slip footwear, or a boot with a good tread to prevent slips from occuring
This is the result of an individual’s foot coming into contact with an unforeseen object. Trips can be a result of a lower level drop of the foot that was unexpected, which throws the person off balance. In this case the body is usually thrown forward, though trips can occur while walking backwards, to the side, or while turning. No matter what environmental setting you may be in, it is important to remain alert regarding your surroundings, and not just what is in front of you. The usual cause of a trip is some type of object that an individual catches their foot on. It doesn’t have to be a big object; it could be as small as a slight curl of the edge of a carpet. In the workplace, accidents resulting from trips can occur due to the work environment being over crowded or disorganized. At home, trips can be a result of family members not putting objects away. In the public environment there can be many causes for trips ranging from debris that have landed in an individual’s path of walking to sidewalks that are in need of repair.
- In the workplace if an unsafe environment exists, then take the necessary action to bring it to the attention of management
- In the home environment, periodically remind those who have a habit of not staying organized
- In the public environment avoid areas that are under construction or appear to be in need of repair. Make sure wherever you are walking that your view is not obstructed and there is good lighting
These occur when a person is thrown out of balance and falls to the floor. The consequences of any of these can range from a life threatening, to a minor injury, and, in some cases, even death. They can result in not only a short term acute injury, but one that may last the rest of their life.
Falls maybe one of the most guarded against mishaps by most individuals. Often, though, the perception of what may be safe is not all together true. For example, an individual may feel that standing on an ordinary chair to reach something is safe, when it is not. Falls in the workplace commonly happen when staff do not use the proper safety precautions for retrieving objects beyond their normal reach. In the home falls will often occur down flights of stairs. In the general public, falls can occur again from flaws in the various infrastructure of the area one is in.
- In the work environment, be sure to use the proper resources provided by the company for retrieving items that are out of reach. This includes wearing the proper fall protection system where applicable (For more on choosing a fall protection system, check out Arrest or Protect: Your Guide to Choosing the Right Fall Protection Plan)
- In the home environment, having the proper resources on hand is important as well. Making sure that proper hand rails are in place for the stairs is a priority
- In the public environment, making sure the area is safe when approaching inclines will help to ensure safety
The key to the prevention of slips, trips and falls is to be constantly alert in your surroundings and never assume that these mishaps are not something that could happen to you.