Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas come in rapid succession and the next thing you know, it’s a brand new year. A new decade even. As you look to make those new year goals and resolutions for 2020 make getting focused on safety a priority. And one safety area that should top the 2020 improvement list is preventing and reducing workplace slips and falls.
A Painful Problem
No doubt about it, slips and falls hurt—pain, injury, liability and loss of work, whether at home or at work and whether you are the injured or the responsible party. For businesses in particular, workplace slips and falls, across all industries, are an expensive problem and the one of leading causes of workplace injuries. Every year slips, trips and falls cost businesses over $11 billion. In 2018, 791 fatal workplace injuries were attributed to falls, slips and trips according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Understanding the where, what and when of how slips and falls occur will help to prevent and reduce the frequency and impact from incidents. While the majority of slip and fall accidents are caused by uneven walking surfaces and inadequate footwear, being cognizant and vigilant can help to proactively mitigate the risk of slip and fall incidents while on the job.
For 2020, resolve to reduce the potential hazards that lead to slips and fall by implementing the following best practices:
- Proper lighting both indoors and out helps to identify potential hazards.
- Clean and clutter free work places are key. Walkways and work areas should be free of obstructions such as cords and boxes. Equipment and other items tidily stored out of the way.
- A wet floor is always a hazards and should be immediately cleaned up. Leaks, spills or poor drainage, prime factors in creating create slick areas, as such should also be immediately reported.
- Give extra attention during adverse weather conditions, especially in winter when frigid temperatures and snow create invisible layers of ice on walkways, roads, and paths.
- Make sure flooring is even, carpet is not pulling up and rugs and mats have non-skid backing.
- Stairs and stairwells are common places where injuries from slips and falls occur. Hand rails should be present. Reflective tape noting top and bottom stairs should be as well. Stairwells and stair areas are well-lit and clear of debris.
- Employees should never carry any loads they can’t see clearly over.
- Footwear appropriate for specific work and weather conditions. Shoes with proper traction are ideal and often required for certain jobs.
- The use of signage, cones or reflective tape to draw attention to a hazard or potential problem area, such as to note a wet floor, an unexpected step up or uneven walking surfaces.
- Stools and ladders can be helpful tools but should be used properly and with great care. Instruct employees on specific workplace use such as never standing on the top of a ladder or failing to check stability before using.
For 2020 stay vigilant and have a safe, happy New Year!