Why is the prevention of slips, trips and falls important?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one million Americans suffer a slip, trip, and fall injury with over 17,000 annual fatalities. Slip, trip and fall injuries are estimated to account for 15 percent of all job-related injuries, which in turn, account for between 12 and 15 percent of all Workers' Compensation expenses.
What are the major causes of falls?
Slips and trips are known to be the major cause of falls. Falls, in turn, are known to be categorized into elevated falls and same-level falls. Falls from elevation are known to comprise 10% of occupational fatalities, while falls on the same level, makeup for 60% of compensable fall cases.
What causes slips and trips?
Overall, while slips are a function of a loss of traction between the foot and the walking surface, trips result from inadvertent contact with an object on the floor.
Common causes of slips include:
- Oily surfaces
- Loose mats and rugs
- Poor flooring
Trips result on account of:
- Uncovered cables
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Poor lighting and obstructed view
How to prevent slips and trips?
Some of the major prevention measures that can help prevent falls related to slips and trips include:
- Good housekeeping practices
- Good quality footwear
- Proper flooring
- General caution
Let us look at each of them a little in detail:
It is imperative that whether at home or in the workplace, good housekeeping practices must be a norm. These include seemingly small practices like cleaning any spills as soon as they occur, keeping the floors unobstructed from clutter, covering cables, ensuring proper lighting, and more. Practices such as displaying “wet floor” signs where needed, keeping all passageways clean and orderly and closing file cabinet drawers after use, are some best practices that can go a long way in ensuring safety.
Selecting proper footwear is an essential aspect of ensuring foot safety. Choosing footwear that has a slip-resistant outsole, for example, can go a long way in preventing those slips. Similarly, choosing footwear that fits well and provides comfort can go a long way in improving safety. If you have a job that involves being on your feet for long hours, choose footwear that has enough toebox room to account for the swelling that is bound to occur. A shoe with a deep heel cup can also go a long way to stabilize the foot by aligning your feet with the knee, hips, and ankles.
To reduce the risk of falling due emphasis needs to be laid on having slip-resistant flooring. You could also use a slip-resistant treatment such as abrasive floor coatings for existing flooring. When using floor mats, seemingly simple things like not leaving gaps as also avoiding rolled up edges can help prevent accidents. Overall, a floor safety plan can effectively prevent slips, trips and falls.
Being mindful of your steps and adjusting your stride to the walking surface can go a long way in ensuring safety from slipping. Similarly, the risk of tripping can be avoided by resorting to simple habits like using a flashlight in a dark room or making sure the things you are carrying do not obstruct your view. Using a cellphone, not using designated walkways and speed are other aspects that can cause many on-the-job injuries that are best avoided.
Here’s to foot safety and saying goodbye to slip, trip, and fall hazards!