Remember when you were in school, and you would see someone pull the chair out from under another child that was ready to have a seat, but not on the floor?  Sure, it was funny for the observers, but for the victim, it didn’t seem quite so funny.  We are older now, and hopefully, hold the horseplay for home, not work.  As we get older, a fall that might only embarrass a 20-year-old can cause a more serious injury to a 40-year-old, or older! 

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common injuries that happen at the workplace.  Employees can hurt their head or back, or have a fracture, pulled muscles, or deep contusions as the result of a fall.  Management must commit to actions that implement engineering and work practice controls; supervisors must conduct inspections and monitor work practices; and employees must use the safety training they received to avoid hazardous conditions. 

First, training employees into the hazard control process is essential in developing an effective injury prevention program.  Footwear should be low-heel and non-skid.  Pant legs should not extend to within less than an inch of the floor.  Workers should understand the need for immediate cleanup for spilled liquids.  Running and horseplay at work should not be tolerated.  Here are some other tips: 

  • Loose floor mats can cause slips. 
  • All aisles in the workplace should be at least 22 inches wide in order not to turn sideways while navigating the area.
  • Poor lighting causes employees to not recognize hazards, especially those workers with poor vision. 
  • Conduct pre-shift inspections of all work areas to ensure all slip and trip hazards are controlled. 
  • Employees should not leave any material on stairs, crossovers, or between ladders and walls. 
  • Have waste containers easily accessible. 
  • Floors that occasionally have fluid spills should have a good anti-slip coating. 
  • Salt down walkways in snowy, icy weather.
  • Hoses and cords strung across walkways in production areas are a continual hazard. 
  • Cords are always a problem in offices and conference rooms. 

Next, we come to working on elevated work areas.  It is required by OSHA that fall protection devices are used when working six feet above the ground.  Employees must be trained in the use of fall arrest equipment, and it must be used in order to prevent falls.  

When safety personnel and supervisors analyze the potential for workplace hazards, it is important that they assess the different physical abilities of their workers.  Some may have health or physical conditions that impairs their vision, judgment and balance.  Others may be older, ill, under stress, or taking medications.  Supervisors should train employees that the actions they choose and control can contribute to a slip, trip, and fall injury if they set themselves up for one.  Signage should be placed wherever slip or trip hazards exist.  

Since it’s hard for some people to walk and chew gum at the same time, workers shouldn’t be walking and talking on their cell phones while at work.  Inattentive behavior while walking, distractions, such as not watching where they are going, can contribute to a fall.  Don’t take shortcuts; use walkways or designated paths, and slow down – don’t be in a hurry.  This can result in an injury and then you’ll be late for sure!