Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), slips, trips and falls accounted for 16.3% of all the fatal occupational injuries in 2016. The BLS reported a preliminary total of 5,190 fatal work injuries for calendar year 2016. Of this total, 849 were associated with slips, trips and falls. Falls to a lower level accounted for 82% of the fatal falls with falls from 15’ or less making up nearly half of the total. In addition, of the 892,270 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work recorded in private industry during 2016, 309,060 of the cases were associated with slips and falls.
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Falls on the same level resulted in 10 median days away from work and falls to a lower level resulted in 20 median days away from work.
The most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015 amounted to $60 billion in direct workers’ compensation costs, according to the 2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index (WSI). This translates into more than $1 billion a week spent by businesses on these injuries. Overexertion injuries remained the largest contributor to the overall burden, accounting for $13.7 billion, or just over 23%, of the total cost. Falls on the same level ($11.2 billion) andfalls to a lower level ($5.9 billion) were the next most costly injury causes, followed by struck by object or equipment ($5.3 billion). The cost of the combined fall categories exceeded that for the overexertion category.
The actual cost of work-related deaths and injuries is much greater than the cost of workers’ compensation insurance alone. Per the National Safety Council Injury Facts®2017 Edition, the average cost per death in 2015 was $1 million and the average cost per medically consulted injury was $31,000.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) General Industry standards for walking/working surfaces are found in 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910 Subpart D, 1910.21 – 1910.30. Voluntary consensus standards are available from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), ASTM and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
There are many situations that may cause slips, trips and falls, such as:
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Loose matting
- Weather-related conditions like rain, snow and/or ice
- Use of inappropriate footwear
- Walkway surfaces that are in disrepair
- Highly polished surfaces/floors that do not allow for adequate footwear traction
- Open desk/cabinet drawers
The controls needed to help prevent slips, trips and falls include:
- Practicing good housekeeping
- Keeping floor surfaces clean and dry
- Providing adequate drainage in wet floor locations
- Ensuring wet floor warning signs are posted in and around wet floor locations
- Maintaining clear aisles and passageways
- Ensuring walkway surfaces are in good repair
- Keeping cords and hoses out of the way
- Reporting and cleaning up spills immediately
- Providing non-slip coatings or anti-skid surfaces
- Minimizing matting trip hazards
- Providing adequate lighting in all areas
- Eliminating uneven floor surfaces
- Setting standards for type(s) of footwear to be worn
- Training the workforce to take shorter, more vertical steps in tricky spots and to step over obstacles at an angle
- Establishing an “eyes on the path” and no running rule
For those looking to get additional information related to the prevention of slips, trips and falls, the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) is an organization that’s dedicated to the cause. The NFSI is a non- profit organization that tests and certifies slip prevention floor products, conducts training on slip, trip and fall prevention and develops the standards related to the topic for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). All of their resources can be accessed at www.NFSI.org.
2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2016
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2016
National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2017® Edition
29 CFR 1910 Subpart D, 1910.21-1910.30
ASTM F1637 Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces
NFPA 101 Life Safety Code
ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities
ANSI/ASSE A1264.1 Safety Requirements for Workplace Floor and Wall Openings, Stairs and Railing Systems
ANSI/ASSE A1264-2 Standard for the Provision of Slip Resistance on Walking/Working Surfaces
Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at www.grainger.com/quicktips.
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The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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