Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | April 17, 2013

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, Trips and FallsStability Ball

As active workstation products have grown in use, so has feedback on their downside . . . not to mention how they feel on your backside.  Case in point, it only takes 1 hour of use before discomfort sets in when sitting on a stability ball.  While we all know the health benefits of sitting less minimizes the risk of obesity and heart disease, the productivity benefits of stability balls are less clear.  Falling off the stability ball resulting in an injury is a major concern. Overall, slips and falls account for 30% of workplace injuries.

When you think about workplace falls, most people immediately think of falls from a height, yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of fall-related injuries (65 percent) occur as a result of falls from same-level walking surfaces.  The problem is especially troublesome in specified industries. The service, wholesale, and retail trade industries together accounted for the greatest proportion of injuries that resulted from same level falls (over 60 %), while the manufacturing sector alone accounted for 16 % of injuries that resulted from same-level falls.

The National Safety Council reports slips and falls are the leading cause of death in the workplace, on average about 15 %, second to motor vehicle accidents. Slip, trip and fall hazards are everywhere. It’s important to recognize these hazards on the job when you see them so that you can take proper precautions to prevent accidents and protect yourself and co-workers from injury.

The causes of slip and fall incidents are varied and I have included a few:

slips, trips, falls

  • Messy, cluttered work area with tools, material, or  cords lying on the floor in places where people walk
  • Poor visibility caused by inadequate lighting or burned-out bulbs
  • Not watching where you are going, running or walking too fast
  • Carrying something you can’t see over
  • Walkways that are wet, oily, or otherwise contaminated
  • Floor surfaces that are in disrepair or with loose or unanchored mats or rugs
  • Spills
  • Weather hazards (such as ice, rain or snow)
  • Open drawers ( might not see that one)
  • Failure to use handrails when going up or down stairs
  • Inappropriate footwear.

OSHA has a lot to say about the alarming statistics of slip and fall injuries and have issued several standards for both general industry and construction regarding fall hazards in the workplace.

Following these OSHA do’s can help prevent falls:

Do:

  • Keep work areas neat and tidy, putting tools, materials and other items away after use
  • Pick up items off the floor, even if you didn’t put them there
  • When carrying a load, walk and  change directions slowly
  • Pay attention to changes in floor level such a steps or ramps
  • Report lighting problems right away
  • Close drawers after use
  • Keep items off stairs
  • Ensure walkways clear of equipment or material and are in good repair
  • Keep floor surface clean and dry

The most frequent complaints related to slips and falls are shoulder, back, elbow, wrist and knee injuries.  Why not take a few seconds to review the list again? This way you take an active part in preventing injuries in your workplace.  Summer is around the corner and we need our bodies to be fit and healthy to enjoy all our other fun activities.

~Pam

Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only.  This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation.

Sources:

1. Slips, Trips and Falls: Prevention and Regulations.  www.grainger.com

2. Regulatory standards: OSHA 29CFR1910.22, Walking-Working Services, ANSIA1264.2-2006, Provision for Slip Resistant for Walking/Working Surfaces.

3.  NIOSH: Fall Injuries Prevention in the Workplace.

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