According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 25% of employer insurance claims each year are due to slips, trips and falls. For business owners, these accidents cause a loss in productivity and can create unexpected expenses. While most slips and trips in the workplace can be prevented, you need to be prepared when accidents inevitably happen. Find out what you should know about safety in the workplace.
Where Do Slips Happen?
There are many areas in a workplace that could cause slips. Highly polished floors, smooth floors with dust or other particles, or freshly waxed surfaces can all be dangerous to employees. The weather can also be a factor, creating puddles of rainwater or melted snow in entryways causing wet shoes to slip without notice. Sloped surfaces, shifting tiles or floorboards, poorly cared for rugs and mats, and the simple act of personnel moving from one type of surface to another are also common causes of slips.
What Causes Workplace Trips?
Several workplace items can cause major trip-ups to personnel. Unattended cords, hoses, cables, wires, debris, clutter or obstacles in walkways can easily cause a trip-and-fall incident. Rugs and mats can cause trips as well as slips, especially if corners are broken or curled.
Inside buildings, open drawers or doors that protrude into walkways, changes in floor elevation, awkward thresholds, irregular steps and gaps in floors can all cause falls. On the outside, sidewalks, curb drops and speed bumps can cause tripping hazards for employees and customers.
Workplace Safety Tips to Prevent Slips and Trips
There are several things that all business owners can do to prevent accidents on their property. Follow the guidelines below to make your office, factory, small business or store a safe work environment.
Outside Safety Tips
- Fix potholes and other damage in parking lots.
- Mark uneven surfaces or changes in elevation with a yellow stripe.
- Check that curbs, crosswalks and speed bumps are well marked and in good condition.
- Use slip-resistant paint on pavement.
- Ensure outdoor areas are well-lit.
- Keep outdoor walkways free of cords, hoses and other hazards.
- Make sure handrails are in good condition along all walkways.
- Avoid broken stairs and odd-sized risers and treads.
- Check that ramps are made of slip-resistant material or have traction strips instead.
Indoor Safety Tips
- Check that walkways have no low-hanging objects that could cause head injuries.
- Repair or replace broken or missing floor tiles.
- Check that carpet is free of rips and tears.
- Ensure stairwells are well-lit.
- Move cords and hoses away from walkways; use cord covers for any that cannot be moved.
- Keep walkways free of liquids.
- Use floor signs when appropriate.
- Use mats and rugs to prevent tracking from outside sources.
- Regularly inspect all mats and rugs for curling or tearing.
- Consider installing tire stops in parking lots to prevent employees and guests from walking on uneven surfaces around cars.
Weather Safety Tips
- Consider hiring a snow and ice contractor.
- Check that walkways are clear before arrival of employees and customers.
- Shovel walkways and parking lots throughout the day.
- Use the proper type and amount of ice control around the building.
- Check that snow is piled to reduce thaw and freeze problems on walkways.
Employee Safety Tips
While it is a company’s responsibility to keep their workplace clean and free of slip and trip hazards, there are several safe work practices that employees and customers can do to keep themselves safe.
- On wet surfaces, take smaller steps and make wider turns.
- Clean up personal spills immediately.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes or boots.
- Don't carry large objects that obstruct your view.
- Clean fogged-over glasses immediately.
- Close drawers when not in use.
- Report missing or broken lights.
- Do not stand on a chair to reach an object.
- Walk up and down stairs, don't run.
- Use handrails at all times.
- Notify superiors of unsafe conditions.
Get the Right Coverage
To protect your business, learn more about Farm Bureau workers’ compensation coverage.