Slips, trips and falls are a constant concern in many work environments. BLS reports
that falls, slips and trips accounted for 27% (309,060 cases) of the total occupational injuries and illnesses in 2015, with falls on the same level being a leading type of event or exposure. In its Solving Slips, Trips & Falls Guide, SafeStart
reports that human factors, wet/slippery surfaces and housekeeping issues are the leading causes of slip/trip/fall incidents.
As with most hazards, the first step is to address the physical hazards that exist. This encompasses three key measures: 1) regular maintenance, 2) rules and procedures and 3) proper equipment and guards.
However, too many employers stop there and never really address the human factor side of this complex issue. "Just because there’s a hazard doesn’t mean workers will fall—and just because there’s a sign doesn’t mean they’re safe," SafeStart explains.
In many cases, an employee's state of mind plays a role as well. In particular, when an employee is rushing, frustrated, fatigued or complacent, s/he is more likely to make errors and decisions that increase the chance of injury. "No matter how effective the rest of your safety program is, your employees have a higher risk of being injured due to a slip, trip or fall when they’re in one of these four states," SafeStart says.
To help employees recognize and combat these mental states, employers can help employees develop personal safety skills that help them stay more aware of where and how they’re moving. This might include regularly addressing human factors in toolbox talks and safety meetings, reminding workers about the risks of human error whenever working conditions change, and helping them develop better decision-making skills.
Find more tips for reducing slips, trips and falls in the full guide
Originally published Jan. 18, 2017.