Safety

Walking Working Surfaces

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in the Workplace

2/1/19
Quick Tips #351

Facts

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), slips, trips and falls accounted for 17% of all the fatal occupational injuries in 2017. The BLS reported a preliminary total of 5,147 fatal work injuries for calendar year 2017. Of this total, 887 were associated with slips, trips and falls. Falls to a lower level accounted for 80% of the fatal falls.In addition, of the 882,730 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work recorded in private industry during 2017, 227,760 of the cases were associated with slips and falls.

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) and falls 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’s Injury Facts 2018 Edition, the average cost per death in 2016 was $1,150,000 and the average cost per medically consulted injury was $39,000.

Regulations

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 Professionals (ASSP), ASTM and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Causes

There are many situations that may cause slips, trips and falls, such as:

  • Uneven walking surfaces
  • Spills
  • 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
  • Clutter
  • Open desk/cabinet drawers

Prevention

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

Resource for Additional Information

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.

Sources

2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2017
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work by Event, 2017
National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2018® Edition
29 CFR 1910 Subpart D, 1910.21-1910.30
ASTM F1637-13 Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces
NFPA 101-2018 Life Safety Code
ICC A117.1-2017 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities
ANSI/ASSE A1264.1-2017 Safety Requirements For Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces And Their Access; Workplace, Floor, Wall And Roof Openings; Stairs And Guardrail/Handrail Systems
ANSI/ASSE A1264-2-2012 Provision Of Slip Resistance On Walking/Working Surfaces

The information contained in this article 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 article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities 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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