Eliminating Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls to the same level continue to be one of the leading causes of lost work time injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Slips, trips & falls can happen anywhere in your operation, leading to disability or death. The costs to the employer and worker can be substantial.

According to OSHAElimination of fall hazards is the first and best line of defense against falls from heights. This requires a careful assessment of the workplace and the work process itself. The idea is to combine safety and health into the work process, and not simply try to add safety as an
afterthought to an inherently unsafe work procedure.

The prevention of fall hazards is the second line of defense when fall hazards cannot be entirely eliminated. This involves making changes to the workplace to preclude the need to rely on the employee’s behavior, and personal protective equipment to prevent falls.

Examples include the use of stairs, guardrails, and barriers to prevent the employee from direct and unprotected exposure to the fall hazard. These techniques prevent the fall before the onset.

Control of falls is the last line of defense. It should be considered only after determining that the fall hazard cannot be eliminated or prevented. Fall controls include fall protection such as safety nets or harnesses and fall arrests. These controls reduce the risk of injury resulting from a fall.

Outside of the workplace, some winter hazards like snow and ice are obvious things to plan for. But other hazards may not be as noticeable in the summer or fall. For example, shorter days and longer nights during winter months reduce visibility, making walking surface hazards harder to see in early morning and evening hours if there is insufficient lighting.

Cracks in sidewalks, uneven walking surfaces, and potholes that may seem minor during the summer can become worse by cold weather and freeze/thaw cycles.  Shrubs, bushes or other landscaping that migrates into walkways makes it more difficult to keep those areas clear of snow and ice in the winter.