According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), slips, trips and falls accounted for roughly 30% of all workplace injuries in 2018. These types of accidents can result in muscle strains, broken bones or significant head injuries. Even if a worker experiences a minor injury after falling at work, he or she could still miss several days or weeks of work. Let’s take a look at what can be done to keep workers safe from any accident while on the job.
Rugs or Rubber Mats Can Reduce the Chances of a Slips and Falls
Perhaps the easiest way to prevent workers from slipping is to ensure that they have solid traction wherever they happen to be working. If employees work in a retail location, it may be a good idea to place carpets over the floors to make it easier to make solid contact while walking the aisles.
It can also be a good idea to place rubber mats in areas where workers might come into contact with grease, oil or other liquids. This can help to ensure that an individual won’t slip while preparing food, changing an automobile part or handling products that might expel moisture as they defrost.
Make Sure That Employees Wear Proper Footwear
Workers should wear shoes, sneakers or boots that have rubber soles while walking in areas that may be slippery. Furthermore, those soles should have grooves in them to provide better grip when traveling on a floor that is wet or has just been waxed.
Floor Surfaces Should Be Cleaned Regularly
Ideally, someone will look for signs of wet or slippery floors at least once an hour. If that employee does notice that the floor is wet, he or she should mop the area immediately. In some cases, it may also be necessary to use kitty litter, sand or other dry materials to turn the liquid into a solid clump that can be swept into a garbage can.
Wax Floors When There are Fewer People Around
If possible, have floors waxed or polished after the store, factory or office building has closed for the day. In the event that your location is open 24 hours per day, try to schedule this task overnight when there are fewer people who may be vulnerable to slipping and getting hurt. The same is true for any other cleaning project that may create hazardous conditions for workers, clients or others who are on the premises.
Treat Outdoors Surfaces With Sand and Salt
It isn’t uncommon for people to track ice, snow and slush into a store, warehouse or office building. It may be possible to minimize the amount of moisture that is tracked into a place of business by shoveling snow, sleet or slush toward the sides of a parking lot.
Asphalt salt can be used to melt ice and snow without doing significant damage to a parking lot. In addition, salt should be applied to any sidewalks that are located on land that a business owns or controls. Sand can be used to prevent a person from slipping while walking on a parking lot or sidewalk.
Carpets Should Be Flush With the Floor
It isn’t uncommon for wet carpets to become wrinkled or otherwise not lay flat on the floor. It’s also not uncommon for older rugs to become frayed or torn. However, wrinkled, frayed or torn carpets can pose a significant tripping hazard, which means that they need to be replaced immediately.
Keep Everything In Its Place
As a best practice, inventory should be kept behind a glass case, on a secure shelf or in any other location where products won’t interfere with an individual’s ability to walk safely. The same is true of any supplies that are used by employees such as storage bins, label makers or fork lifts. Regardless of how large an item is, it could be a hazard if it is in a person’s path. Therefore, it is important to remove any products, tools or other debris that might be on the floor as quickly as possible.
Adequate Lighting Can Reduce the Odds of a Tripping Accident
It is much easier to avoid an accident when you can see what is in your path. Therefore, it is critical to have adequate lighting throughout a retail location, office building or warehouse. If a worker needs access to a basement, attic or other remote location, he or she should be given an LED flashlight or access to other tools that can sufficiently brighten that space resulting in a potential accident.
Any bulbs that are flickering, dim or not giving off any light at all should be changed immediately. It may also be worthwhile to perform regular inspections on any lights that are attached to a motion sensor. This can help to ensure that someone doesn’t inadvertently walk into a dark office and trip over a chair or other object.
Keep Power Cord Lengths to a Minimum
Power cords should be kept as close to outlets as possible to ensure that no one is able to trip over them. Many companies use zip ties as cord management tools, and it may also be possible to simply hide them in the wall or with a cover to ensure that they don’t become a hazard. It may be a good idea to have an electrical engineer create a solution that can accomplish this task without causing a fire hazard.
Fall Arrest Systems Can Help to Keep Workers on Their Feet
OSHA rules stipulate that any worker who is performing tasks more than six feet off of the ground must have access to fall prevention tools. Companies should allow employees to wear harnesses that will allow them to hang in the air after falling off of a roof, platform or other elevated work area.
Make Sure that Workers Have Access to Handrails or Guardrails
A person who is able to hold on to a handrail is far less likely to slip, trip or fall while on your premises. If a property is open to the public, it must have a handrail or guardrail that conforms to standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Failing to do so could leave a property owner vulnerable to a lawsuit even if no one has gotten hurt.
In the event that an employee, client or vendor does fall because of a loose, broken or otherwise inadequate fall prevention system, an injured victim may be entitled to compensation. It’s important to note that if a worker is hurt in a fall, that person will likely have to file a workers’ compensation claim.
However, an injured worker might have grounds to file a lawsuit if the injury was caused by gross negligence. For instance, if an employer installed a guardrail that was improperly produced or installed, that might be seen as a wanton disregard for the victim’s safety.
Ladders and Stools Should Be Inspected Daily
Any tool that a worker uses to perform tasks at heights should be inspected to ensure that it will remain stable until he or she is done with a given task. This means inspecting the steps themselves for cracks, fractures or any other signs that they can’t handle a person’s weight. Ladder frames should also be looked at to ensure that they won’t move while an individual is on them.
Elevators and Escalators Should Also Undergo Routine Safety Checks
Although this is a relatively rare occurrence, it is possible to fall from an elevator or escalator. In most cases, people fall while on an elevator or escalator after they come to a sudden stop because of a mechanical or electrical glitch. It may be possible to prevent these glitches by sticking to a routine maintenance schedule and by having them inspected annually by an authorized professional.
What To Do If an Accident Does Happen?
Despite everyone’s best efforts, there is a chance of an accident happening on the job. If a person is hurt while on the job, that individual should submit an accident report as quickly as possible. The report should state the date, time and location where a slip, trip or fall took place. It should also include witness statements, pictures and anything else that might help to facilitate a timely investigation into the matter.
Employers can generally minimize their liability by posting warning signs near a wet floor or icy parking lot. Employers may also be able to minimize their liability by having employees sign waivers or other documents acknowledging that they are aware of the hazards that their job may pose. A personal injury lawyer may be legally entitled to copies of these documents and other information that is relevant to a personal injury case.
Both workers and employees have a responsibility to work together to create a safe working environment. If you are hurt while on the job, it may be in your best interests to consult with a personal injury lawyer. He or she may be able to create a strategy to help you obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages related to a workplace accident.