Preventing injuries from slips, trips, and falls has always been a challenge. Falls are usually caused by something in our path that is slippery, loose, uneven, broken, missing, hidden, or obscured by distractions. Most slip, trip, and fall (STF) incidents can be prevented with proper attention to the three categories of risk factors: workplace, work organization, and individual.
- Spills on walking areas may cause slippery surfaces
- Ice, snow, and rain can create outdoor slipping hazards and can be tracked indoors
- Loose mats or rugs may result in tripping
- Boxes and containers can obstruct views
- Poor lighting affects visibility
- Walking surfaces that are in disrepair, have protruding nails and boards, or changes in floor height may cause slips, trips, and falls
- Fast work pace – an employee might feel rushed and work at a faster-than-normal work pace
- Work tasks that involve handling liquid or greasy materials may cause slippery surfaces
- Age may affect balance as the risk of same-level falls increase with age
- Employee fatigue may contribute to slips and trips
- Failing eyesight/use of bifocals may prevent employees from seeing walking surfaces clearly
- Inappropriate, loose, or poor-fitting footwear may cause a worker to trip
- Distracted walking includes walking with your head down, using a cell phone while walking, reading written material while walking, looking behind while walking forward, not being able to see over a load being carried
Planning and Workplace Design
- Develop a written STF prevention policy that specifies both employer and worker responsibilities.
- Ensure that aisles and passageways are free from clutter and other tripping hazards. Mark permanent aisles and walkways.
- Provide proper lighting in all areas indoors and outdoors to reduce shadows, dark areas, and glare so that trip hazards or surface irregularities are clearly visible. Promptly replace burned out light bulbs.
- If electrical cords are used on a regular basis, install outlets so cords don’t cross walkways.
- In grocery stores, ensure that water from produce sprayer is directed onto produce and not onto the floor.
- In grocery stores, provide customers with plastic bags and paper towels for wet produce to prevent it from dripping water onto the floor.
- Provide clean up supplies at convenient locations in the facility.
- Provide umbrella bags to prevent rainwater from dripping onto the floor.
- Select flooring material according to the work to be done in the area. Use flooring with a static coefficient of friction of more than 0.5 for high risk areas.
- Use mats to provide slip-resistant walking surfaces as they absorb liquid and remove dirt and debris from the shoes. Provide water absorbent mats near entrances and other areas where water, ice, and snow may drip and be tracked on the floor.
- Slip-resistant shoes are important components of a comprehensive STF prevention program. Employees who work on wet or contaminated walking surfaces should wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Choose footwear that is resistant to oil, chemicals, and heat. Avoid flat leather and plastic soled shoes. Inspect footwear on a regular basis.
- Consider using traction devices that slip on over shoes when employees need to walk outdoors in the snow.
- Ensure an unobstructed pathway before transporting large materials that might block vision.
- Walk with caution and make wide turns at corners.
- Push, rather than pull, carts to allow a better line of sight.
- Clean floors and work surfaces as soon as they get wet.
- Inspect refrigerator and freezer cases for water leakage onto floor surfaces. Place absorbent strips and water absorbent mats on the floor until the unit is repaired.
- Place warning signs in areas with wet floors.
- Use no-skid waxes in slippery areas and use soap that does not leave slippery residue.
- Clean only one side of a passageway at a time to allow room for others to pass.
- Make sure that floor mats lay flat rather than wrinkled or bunched.
- For a one-time use, tape or anchor electrical cords to floors if they cross walkways.
- Train all employees on:
- How to identify STF hazards and how to prevent STFs by using safe cleaning procedures, including placing caution signs and/or cones around the site to warn others to avoid the area. Ensure signs are picked up when there is no longer a hazard.
- Make sure employees know who to call to report hazards, clean up, and repair.
- If ladders are used in the workplace, ensure that employees are trained on correct ladder usage, set-up, load limits, and inspection requirements.
OSHA standard CFR 1910.22