Although they might not sound scary, slips and trips account for one third of all major injuries reported in the work place and cost businesses $750 million a year. According to a recent article from “Business Link,” many employers are sued each year for slips and falls that occurred because of tripping hazards in the workplace.
Common causes for falls include:
- Cluttered spaces and trailing cables
- Wet or slippery floors
- Uneven, broken or shiny surfaces
- Poor lighting or poor visibility
- Slopes and steps without handrails
- Carrying objects that interfere with visibility or balance.
Falls from heights are the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the biggest causes of major injuries. The definition of a fall from height injury is that the height contributed to the injury. So this does not just mean construction workers who fall off roofs, but any worker falling from any height. Sometimes the height is not great – a step-ladder or a chair. But obviously the risk of serious injury or death increases with the height.
Same level falls are generally slips or trips. Injury results when the individual hits a walking or working surface or strikes some other object during the fall. Trips occur when the front foot strikes an object and is suddenly stopped .The upper body is then thrown forward and a fall occurs. As little as a 3/8 inch rise in a walkway can cause a person to “stub” his toe resulting in a trip and fall. The same thing can happen going up a flight of stairs.
Another type of fall that is common in the workplace is the “step and fall.” This occurs when the front foot lands on a surface lower than expected, such as when a person unexpectedly steps off of a curb in the dark. In this type of fall the person normally falls forward.
Proper housekeeping in work and walking areas can contribute to the safety and prevention of falls. Not only is it important to maintain a safe working environment and walking surface, but those areas must also be kept free of obstacles which can cause slips and trips. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for workers.