Slip, Trips, and Falls
Injury due to falls is a major problem in industry today. You always hear about the incidents where an employee fell from a great height and lost his or her life. But there are more common fall injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, cuts/lacerations, punctures, etc. that can require a trip to the doctor’s office. The pain and suffering from a knee or back injury is very real, and a very realistic concern. Falls from one level to another are certainly pose the highest risk physically, but there are a couple of other types of falls that need to be looked at as well.
How many of you have ever fallen down? What were you doing at the time? (So, falling from one level to another/from an elevated height is not the only fall hazard.)
Let’s look at the four main categories of falls. (Note: There are many examples of falls under each category, we’ve only listed a few examples for each type.)
|Slipping (same level)|
Ø Ice on the sidewalks
Ø Oil or grease on the floor
Ø Loose rugs on waxed (slick) floors
Ø Food on the floor after breaks and lunch
Ø Pipe, welding rod stubs, or other rolling stock on the floor
Ø Trash, debris (ex. sawdust) on the floor
|Tripping (same level)|
Ø Irregular surfaces
Ø Lines, cords, hoses in walkways
Ø Poor lighting
Ø Poor housekeeping
Ø Rug edges not flat
Ø Work shoes worn/in poor condition
|Collisions (same level)|
Ø Blind corners in hallways and warehouses
Ø Equipment, such as forklifts, which swing wide
Ø Low clearances
|Elevations (different levels)|
Ø Misjudging a step or handhold
Ø Over-reaching on ladders, scaffolds, and man-lifts
Ø Unstable ladders (top not secured, feet not prevented from slipping)
Ø Unguarded edges
Ø Not using fall arrest equipment properly/not hooked off
- Poor housekeeping is a major cause of slips, trips, and falls. You are responsible for picking up after yourself! Throw away trash and debris throughout the day. Return tools and equipment to their proper storage areas when not in use; don’t leave them laying in walkways.
- Make sure your work shoes are in good condition. Worn soles and heels can create a fall hazard. Slip resistance soles may be necessary in some work areas that consistently encounter slippery walking surfaces.
- Use ladders in the manner they were designed to be used. The same applies to scaffolds and man-lifts. Avoid over-reaching and using incomplete, damaged, or unsecured equipment.
- Use caution in blind spots and around heavy material moving equipment.
- Wear fall arrest systems in unprotected areas with a fall distance of 4 feet or greater.
- Barricade holes, trenches, excavations, floor openings, etc. which people could accidentally walk into or fall into.
- Pay attention to what you’re doing, watch your step, and avoid unnecessary exposure to fall hazards. If you don’t need to be in a hazardous area, or aren’t supposed to be in the area, then leave immediately.