Trips and Falls (STFs) are the second leading cause of workplace fatalities. Only motor vehicle accidents rank higher. In a July, 2013 post from ehstoday.com, it was noted that 9 million workers are seen in emergency rooms annually for falls. An average of 38 days are lost per STF incident and 65% of all work days lost are due to STFs.
Older workers are particularly susceptible to falls. The National Safety Council has determined that workers aged 55 and over are more likely to suffer fall injuries and those 65 and older are four times more likely to die in a fall. It is an serious off the job issue, especially for older workers who if they can recover to return to work will have spent a lot of time away from work and undergoing therapy.
Studies show that wet floors are far and away the leading cause of slip injuries. Tripping occurs even with slightest change in floor surface elevation and when there is clutter along the floor. Distractions (yes even walkers get distracted) contribute to workers getting caught in a STF hazard. The need to be focused on potential hazards can not be minimized.
Here are three key starting points to take when starting a fall prevention program:
1. Perform work space audits to identify obvious STF hazards that can be corrected. Audits should take place at different times of day to be sure to observe cleaning activities.
2. When the hazards can not be eliminated, they should be clearly marked. Yellow paint is a great marking tool to catch attention to changing floor levels or stair edges that are not immediately identifiable. Employees who clean floors should use wet floor signs.
3. Provide employee training so that your workers can identify STF hazards and report them when they cannot take care of the hazard themselves. In environments where there is constant change, employees can be the ones to quickly identify new hazards.
Slips, Trips and Falls are a major source of injury in workplaces and at home. By putting together a focused fall prevention program, we can greatly reduce the likelihood of an injury type that occurs frequently with severe consequences.
Rich Galutia CSP specializes in the areas of employee safety (OSHA), trucking compliance (FMCSA) and animal feed safety (FDA).