June is Safety Month in North America, and to raise awareness for workplace safety, Refresh Leadership will be highlighting five areas of focus for organizations in all industries. For the fourth week of Safety Month, we are covering slips, trips, and falls.
Safety Month: Slips, Trips, and Falls Safety
Slips, trips, and falls are some of the leading causes of workplace-related injuries and fatalities. Technically speaking, slip, trips, and falls are three separate things, although they are often categorized together because they go hand-in-hand. Let’s define each term to differentiate each incident.
Slips are a loss of balance caused by too little friction between your feet and the surface you walk or work on. Trips happen whenever your foot hits an object, and you are moving with enough momentum to be thrown off balance. And falls occur whenever you move too far off your center of balance. These types of accidents can result in many different types of injuries ranging from sprains and fractures to head injuries, lacerations, and back injuries. These can also be fatal.
Housekeeping is crucial to a safe workplace and when done correctly, it can be effective in controlling and eliminating hazards. Good housekeeping practices are the first and most important step in preventing slips, trips, and falls. This includes:
- Cleaning up spills immediately
- Marking spills and wet areas
- Sweeping debris from floors
- Removing obstacles from walkways and keeping them free of clutter
- Securing mats, rugs, and carpets that do not lay flat or that move unintentionally
- Covering electrical cords and cables that cannot be eliminated
- Ensuring tools and equipment are orderly
- Securing material to racks and ensuring it does not overhang
If the sight of debris, clutter, and spills are seen as “normal,” then other more serious hazards may also be overlooked or taken for granted.
Conditions of Floors, Stairs, and Ladders
Look for uneven walking surfaces, as well as surfaces with limited or no traction. Stairs, ladders, and other elevated surfaces should be structurally sound and have the appropriate guardrails and handrails in place.
Weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a plan in place to respond. With that being said, no matter how well an area may have been cleared, snow, ice, and rainfall can still pose a slipping hazard. Another thing to consider is lighting conditions. Verify work areas and walkways are well lit within your facility. If lighting conditions are poor, it may be difficult to see obstacles that otherwise would not normally pose a risk for slips, trips, and falls.
Stay tuned for next week’s article where we will shine a light on material handling!
What does your company do to raise awareness to safe procedures in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below!