Did you know that falls are the third-highest cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S.? (The first two are motor vehicle crashes and poisoning). More than 33,000 people die in unintentional falls each year, and another 8 million people end up in the E.R. for injuries caused by slips, trips and falls.
While many falls happen in the home, there's a lot of slipping and falling happening at work, too. In 2016, more than 230,000 people were injured due to slips and falls at work, representing more than 25% of all reported work accidents. 22% of these falls resulted in more than 30 days of missed work. Between lost productivity, workers comp claims, and legal claims, the economic costs of workplace falls add up fast.
The good news is, the vast majority of slips, trips and falls can be prevented with proper care, training and equipment. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent slips, trips and falls in your workplace.
Provide Proper Training in Fall Prevention
This is the number one thing employers can do to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace. Provide your employees with training specific to the hazards they will face on the job and make sure they know how to use any required safety equipment. This may include topics such as ladder safety, stairway safety and the use of safety harnesses. OSHA has some great fall prevention training resources for employers.
Use Fall Protection Equipment for Workers Six Or More Feet Up
Workers who are engaged in activities more than a few feet above ground level—such as roofing, construction or warehouse work—should have (and use) appropriate fall protection equipment. OSHA requires employers to take fall prevention measures for people working six or more feet above a lower level. These can include guardrails, a safety net system, or personal fall arrest systems (e.g., safety harnesses). While not required, some experts recommend that construction workers and others working six or more feet above a lower level with an unprotected edge always wear safety harnesses, regardless of other fall prevention measures in place. Hardhats are also essential to protect the head in case a fall should occur.
Keep Surfaces Clean and Dry
Slips are often the result of walking on surfaces that are wet, oily or covered in thick layers of loose debris or particulates. Keep mops handy to wipe up spills when they happen. Oily spills can be cleaned up quickly by applying a spill absorbent or sweeping compound before sweeping up with a broom. If wet floors are an unavoidable hazard in your workplace, use rough-textured floor mats to give workers extra grip; some have drainage holes to allow excess liquids to drain off rather than pool on the surface. Also make sure everyone is wearing appropriate footwear with anti-slip soles.
Install Guard Rails, Barriers and Signs
OSHA requires employers to use guardrails around open holes, dangerous equipment and other workplace hazards. Guard rails and barriers can prevent falls and keep unauthorized workers away from high-hazard areas. Employers should also use appropriate safety signs to warn workers of hazards. Safety cones are useful to block off areas temporarily or warn people of a new hazard.
Keep Hallways and Walkways Clear
Yeah, everyone should be watching where they walk—but you know they don't. Half your workforce is probably looking down at a phone while walking through the halls. Keeping walkways clear of hazards like unattended brooms, boxes, buckets or other trip hazards will go a long way toward preventing those "oops" moments. This goes double for stairways!
Provide Proper Lighting
Make sure all areas where people will be walking are well lit at all times. Dock lights are a great option for loading docks and other areas where extra light may be needed. If workers must go into areas that are not well lit, make sure they have a good flashlight.
Don't Fall Down on Safety.
Pantero can help you prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace. Check out our catalog for safety harnesses, anti-slip mats, cleaning supplies and more to keep everyone safe. Don't see what you need? Just contact us—we're here to help.