Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are a common cause of workplace injuries. These kinds of accidents can occur in just about any work environment, and can lead to serious physical harm. It’s important to be aware of seasonal and environmental factors that can contribute to slips and falls, and mitigate these risks as required in your workplace.
When do slips and trips happen?
Slips usually occur when someone’s footwear loses traction with the surface they’re on, causing a loss of balance. Trips happen when someone hits their foot or lower leg on an object. As their upper body continues moving forward while their lower body remains stationary, the person may lose their balance in the process.
Improper footwear can increase the risk of slips – as can unsafe or hazardous working conditions such as slick, wet floors, ice, or uneven walking surfaces. Trips can occur when tripping hazards are not properly marked, or when equipment or supplies are left in throughways and high-traffic areas.
Though slips and trips often lead to falls, even when they don’t, they can still lead to injury.
When do falls happen?
Falls often result from slips or trips, but they can also happen independently. For example, a worker on a ladder or scaffolding can lose their balance and fall without necessarily slipping or tripping. Falls are also possible on flat surfaces and can still cause serious injuries. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury in the workplace.
Fall prevention is a key concern for any workplace health and safety policy. Prevention of slips and trips should go hand-in-hand with traditional fall prevention measures like safety harnesses, railings, and working at heights training to ensure that all potential causes for falls have been addressed.
Steps to prevent slips, trips, and falls
As is the case with many workplace hazards, preventing slips, trips, and falls starts with recognizing and evaluating the source of the hazard, then taking measures to control it.
Recognize the hazard
Identify conditions that could lead to a slip, trip, or fall. Are slippery floors or walkways a frequent or potential issue in the work environment? Are there low-to-the-ground hazards such as half-steps, metal grating, pipes, or other equipment? Be sure to conduct a thorough safety inspection, and repeat the inspection regularly especially if there has been any change to the work environment. Note all potential slip, trip, and fall hazards.
Evaluate the hazard
Examine the situation and determine what level of risk it presents and who it affects. If there is an area where falls are more likely to occur, evaluate who has access to the area, or who would pass through it. Are workers who are required to be in the area properly trained on slip or fall prevention?
Control the hazard
Avoid the risk by removing the hazard (such as cleaning a spill or de-icing a walkway) or implementing safety equipment and procedures (such as installing handrails on an elevated platform).
Workplace controls for slips, trips, and falls
The precise controls that you use to mitigate the risk of slips, trips, and falls in your workplace may vary, depending on the environment and the nature of the work. Controls commonly used to mitigate this hazard include:
- Situational awareness training
- Encouraging or requiring proper footwear
- Utilizing clear signage
- Keeping floors clear and clean
- Applying non-slip mats and coatings
- Ensuring proper lighting
- Developing safety plans
- Providing Slips, Trips, and Falls Training
As with any workplace control, you should have a clear and accessible policy for mitigating slips, trips, and falls, as well as for responding to hazards if they are brought to your attention by a worker or supervisor.
At Fluent Motion, we are experts in workplace safety training, and can assist you with developing and implementing training programs and policies to help mitigate slips, trips, and falls in your workplace. Contact us today to get started developing or updating your internal policies and procedures, to keep your workers safe and productive.