Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common causes of injury to workers. They are also among the most costly of injuries. And these types of slip and trip injuries don't have to be catastrophic falls from elevated surfaces to be costly.
IWIF statistics show that slips, trips, and falls accounted for 26% of claims costs in 2002 - far larger, in fact, than motor vehicle accidents, which accounted for only 10% of claims costs for the same year. IWIF data further shows that, across the accident years, slip and fall injuries consistently cost twice as much or more than the average costs of other types of accident claims.
But many slip, trip, and fall injuries can be prevented -- by properly addressing and proactively promoting good, safe work habits and behaviors. This goes for both employers and employees.
Some examples of preventable slip, trip, and fall injuries that IWIF has received:
Slip: A health worker on a short break slipped on water that had been left on the break room floor. She fell, injuring her left ankle.
Total incurred claims costs: $13,239
Total lost workdays: 55
Trip: An employee coming off an elevator tripped over the elevator threshold and fell to the floor, injuring a hand and both knees.
Total incurred claims costs: $9,800
Total lost workdays: 7
Fall : An office worker was coming into the workplace when she slipped on mud and fell, injuring her hip, knee, and elbow.
Total incurred claims costs: $17,721
Total lost workdays: 183
First: Encourage your employees to take responsibility for safety
Taking responsibility for hazards can go a long way in preventing most slips, trips, and falls. No matter how quickly facilities personnel respond to a hazard, the person who first notices the problem is in the best position to prevent a slip, trip, or fall. Timing is crucial, especially in high traffic areas where many people will quickly come into contact with the hazard.
Second: Watch for these hazards around your workplace
· Smooth but potentially slick surfaces
· Wet, icy, or oily surfaces
· Newly mopped and/or waxed floors
· Loose flooring, mats, or tiles
· Frayed carpeting or rugs
· Boxes or other items placed in high-traffic areas
· Items dropped on floors
· Drawers left open
· Objects left on stairways
· Insufficient lighting, especially poorly lighted steps
· Makeshift step stools
· Worn stair treads
· Spilled water, coffee, or other liquids
· Loose electrical cords, phone lines, or extension cords
· Machine parts obstructing walkways or protruding from shelves
· Long, loose hems or cuffs
Third: Training and education help improve safety awareness
Safety training keeps employees aware of safe work practices and management's safety efforts. Supervisory personnel should receive safety training through local professional or technical organizations that will inform them of new and changing technology and safety issues related to the company's operations. Foremen, supervisors, and managers should be encouraged to get involved with local safety organizations as well.
Training should be provided for every employee, including new hires, transfers, contractors, and even experienced employees. In addition, management should encourage ownership and safety participation by involving all employees in establishing and operating:
· Safety committees
· Safety rules and procedures
· Budget requirements for safety-related activities
· Safety audits and inspections
· Safety, health, and environmental programs and policies
· First-Aid, fire, and emergency programs
· Accident investigation and procedures
· Housekeeping programs