Accidents can happen anytime and anyplace. Although we tend to focus on the larger issues involving safety, it’s the little issues that have the most possibility of “tripping” us up.
Slips, trips and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). These types of accidents are the cause of 15% of all accidental deaths and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.
Statistics show that the majority of falls happen on the same level, resulting from slips and trips. The remaining are falls from a height.
Slips happen where there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and the walking surface. Common causes of slips are:
- wet or oily surfaces
- occasional spills
- weather hazards
- loose, unanchored rugs or mats
- flooring or other walking surfaces that do not have same degree of traction in all areas
Trips happen when your foot encounters an object that causes you to lose balance and eventually fall. Common causes of tripping are:
- obstructed view
- poor lighting
- clutter in your way
- wrinkled carpeting
- uncovered cables
- bottom drawers not being closed
- uneven walking surfaces (including steps and thresholds)
Good housekeeping is the most important way to prevent falls due to slips and trips. Without good housekeeping practices, other preventive measures are ineffective. The following are good housekeeping practices:
- Clearing walkways of telephone, electrical and extension cords, as well as wastebaskets, packages and other objects. If a cord cannot be moved, consider installing a new outlet or securing the cord to the floor with cord-covering strips. Taping down cords or running them under carpeting are not effective long-term solutions, however.
- Reporting or repairing loose or worn-out carpeting, boards, tiles, and other tripping hazards.
- Cleaning up spills and picking up fallen debris immediately.
- Closing file cabinet or storage drawers that have been left open.
- Maintaining adequate lighting in the office, and replacing burned-out light bulbs. Also, if need be, installing additional lighting.
- Storing items in a designated space. Be sure that boxes, papers and other materials are not stacked too high. Otherwise, an avalanche can occur if an individual pulls out an item that is halfway down the stack. Also, labeling the contents of boxes.
- Ensuring that office equipment, machines and facilities are in good working condition.
- Securing all mats, rugs and carpets and making sure they lay flat.
- Marking spills and wet areas.
Other ways to help prevent slips, trips and falls is to change or modify walking surfaces, such as installing mats or abrasive strips, or replace slippery flooring. Another safety tip is making sure workers wear proper footwear for each job. For example, if you work in an area that is consistently wet or oily, you would need a special type of footwear. Also, all footwear should fit properly. Properly fitting footwear increases comfort and reduces fatigue and improves safety.
Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings, take your time and pay attention to where you are going.
If you have any comments or questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This information is not exhaustive and should not be construed as containing all the necessary compliance, safety, or warning information available. Please make sure you consult with EH&S or appropriate supervisors for all safety information and procedures.