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SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS

 

OSHA reports slips, trips, or falls cause almost 20 percent of all workplace injuries. Slips and falls do not constitute a primary cause of fatal occupational injuries, but represent the primary cause of lost days from work. A study by Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2002 found that 22% of slip/fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work.

 

According to Workers Compensation statistics from ITT-Hartford Insurance Company, falls account for 16% of all claims and 26% of all costs. This compares to 33% of costs associated with sprains and strains.

Nearly all slips or falls have one or more of these factors as a cause:

  1. substandard walking surfaces;

  2. surface contaminants;

  3. footwear;

  4. walking style of the person.

Proper housekeeping and lighting of working and walking surfaces can prevent most slips, trips, and falls. Sometimes surface contaminants can be very difficult to recognize as a hazard and once the hazard is noticed, must be cleaned up to prevent any risk of injury. Wearing the proper footwear for current weather conditions, as well as the surfaces being traveled, is important to prevent slips, trips or falls, and reduce fatigue.

 

Incidents that can occur on walking and working surfaces:

 

Trips: occur when an obstruction catches the worker's foot and causes him or her to stumble forward. Tripping hazards include cords, equipment, uneven floor mats, and unseen or unexpected objects. These tripping hazards should be picked up and put away after every use, and when they are in use be aware of the danger they could pose in a walkway, such as an electrical cord strung across a sidewalk.

 

Slips: occur when an individual slides along smoothly causing a loss of balance. Slipping hazards include wet, icy, greasy, or soiled ground or floors. People need to wear the proper foot apparel appropriate for the job, such as steel toed and slip resistant. Use absorbents to clean up any spills, especially oily material and corrosive materials.

 

Falls: occur from an individual descending freely by the force of gravity. A fall can happen from any surface higher than four inches such as ladders, hydraulic lifts, large equipment, elevated walkways, ramps, or platforms. Falls may also occur into or through a hole. The majority of falls occur from heights less than 10 feet, so safety precautions need to be taken, even at lower heights.

 

Safe practices for individuals

  • Utilize handrails or grab bars in areas where there are stairs or changes in elevation.

  • Use 3 points of contact when mounting or dismounting equipment (1 hand/2 feet) or (2 hands/1 foot).

  • In wet or icy conditions, take smaller steps and try to ensure your torso stays balanced over your feet.

  • Use slip-resistant matting or provide textured surfaces in potentially wet areas.

  • Minimize distractions to remain alert to hazards and avoid carrying bulky items that block your view.

  • Remove obstructions from travel areas, such as extension cords, power cords, hoses, boxes, or tools.

  • Stay alert to parts projecting from machines or equipment.

 

Here are some extra tips for working and walking when it’s cold, snowy or icy.

  • Plan ahead and give yourself sufficient time.

  • When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.

  • When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.

  • Bending your knees a little and taking slower and shorter steps increases traction and can greatly reduce your chances of falling. It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.

  • Streets and sidewalks that have been cleared of snow and ice should still be approached with caution. Look out for "black ice." Dew, fog or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces and form an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement. It often shows up early in the morning or in areas that are shaded from the sun.

  • Carrying heavy items can challenge your sense of balance. Try not to carry too much--you need to leave your hands and arms free to better balance yourself.

  • Be prepared to fall and try to avoid using your arms to break your fall. If you fall backward, make a conscious effort to tuck your chin so your head doesn't strike the ground with a full force.

  • When entering a building, remove as much snow and water from your boots as you can. Take notice that floors and stairs may be wet and slippery--walk carefully.

  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles--use the vehicle for support.

 

Sources:

http://safetytoolboxtopics.com/Slips-Trips-and-Falls/slip-trip-and-fall-prevention.html

http://safetytoolboxtopics.com/Slips-Trips-and-Falls/slips-trip-and-falls-winter-safety-tips.html