The workplace is full of imperceptible hazards and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies slip, trip and fall hazards as some of the most common types of workplace injuries. Occupational accidents and injuries are unfortunate for victims and can cost a company time and money. However, knowing how to recognize and eliminate slip, trip and fall hazards will keep employees safe on the job.
Slipping is what happens when an employee steps on a walking surface that is wet or slippery. Slips can turn into falls if employees do not catch themselves when unexpectedly thrown off balance. To protect staff from slip and falls, ensure that walking surfaces are free from slippery agents. Liquid spills should be immediately cleaned up so that employees are not exposed to slipping hazards.
In controlled environments, slippery walking surfaces need to be preceded by caution signs that warn employees of entering a slippery area. For outdoor work, like construction, employees may be required to wear personal protective equipment, such as boots with grips on the soles to inhibit slip and falls from occurring.
Tripping is when an employee missteps due to an object being in the walking path or the ground being uneven. OSHA explains that walking and working surfaces should be clear of objects that have the potential to cause trip and fall accidents, such as boxes, electrical wires, extension cords and protruding furniture or materials. Even rugs and door mats, when not laid flush with the ground, can serve as tripping hazards, as employees can get shoes caught beneath them.
Uneven walking and working surfaces are tripping hazards. When the ground has buckled tiles, cracks in the concrete or holes in the surface, employers are at risk of employees slipping or tripping, adding worker's compensation costs to the bottom line.
Falls occur in all types of work environments. In offices, employees can fall after a slip or trip, or they can fall with a misstep going up or down stairs. Construction workers face more severe types of falls, such as falls from ladders, platforms, vehicles and machinery. OSHA explains that things like powered platforms and machinery must be safeguarded with rails and stability controls. When rails are missing and stability controls are not in place this constitutes a fall hazard.
OSHA requires all ladders to be in good condition before employees need to use them. Employers must see to it that there is no decay on wooden ladders, as the employee’s weight might crack the weakened wood, causing them to fall from the ladder. Metal ladders must be coated with the appropriate skid-resistant materials to avoid slip and fall injuries from occurring.