Managing Slip and Fall Injuries
Real Life Claims
A drinking fountain at a health club malfunctioned and began to slowly leak water out of its base. The facility was aware of this leak and attempted to regularly mop up the water after it collected. The mopping, however, was neglected too long and an employee walked past the drinking fountain, slipped on the water, fell, and suffered a broken arm and a concussion. The facility made several mistakes in this situation including not placing appropriate signs near the water, not getting it fixed promptly, and failing to perform the routine mopping.
Slip and Fall Statistics
Slips and falls are consistently one of the leading causes of injuries affecting workers in every industry. Slips and falls can range from minor to severe and can affect people of all age groups. The United States Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently conducted a study on slips and falls in the workplace and made the following discoveries:
- Injuries from slips and falls are the most common work related injury
- 25,000 slip and fall injuries per day
- 35% of all work-related injuries are from slips and falls
- 65% of all work days lost are from slips and falls
- The total annual cost of slip and fall injuries in the United States is over $60 billion annually
Areas of Heightened Concern for Community Orgs
- Outdoor Surfaces: Outdoor surfaces, such as parking lots, sidewalks, and walkways, are one of the leading areas for slip and fall injuries. Snow, ice, and rain often make these areas slippery and dangerous. Winter conditions factor heavily into outdoor slip and fall injuries. Learn more aboutpreventing slip and fall injuries on icy walkways.
- Steps and Stairs: Steps and stairs pose a slip and fall hazard for several reasons, and falls down stairs are often more severe. Steps can become worn over time due to heavy use and be a serious trip and fall hazard. Carpeted stairs can become torn over time and create serious trip hazards as well.
- Pool Decks: Pool decks are a dangerous area due to the large amounts of moisture, slick floors, and minimal footwear.
- Locker Rooms: Locker rooms are dangerous, like pool decks, due to the slippery conditions. Locker rooms are also dangerous due to clothes, bags, and towels that can clutter up the floor and cause trip and fall injuries.
- Entryways: These high-traffic areas are also an extremely common place for slip and fall injuries to occur. Due to the high amount of foot traffic, water and debris are consistently tracked in by shoes, making the area slippery.
Slip and Fall Prevention Techniques
Maintain Outdoor Surfaces
- Repair all cracks, divots, holes, and other surface defects immediately. These areas are among the most common areas for falls.
- Over time, sidewalks and walkways can shift up or down and create elevated and compressed areas. If the change in elevation exceeds one inch, the area needs to be clearly marked and should ultimately be repaired.
- Outdoor surfaces need special attention during winter months due to the accumulation of ice and snow. Make sure to routinely remove snow and apply salt and sand. It is recommended to keep a log of when and by whom these activities are being performed.
Keep Steps Clean and Clear
- Stairs should be well maintained and free of cracks or damage.
- Never leave items sitting where someone might trip and fall.
- Install handrails along all staircases.
- Any torn carpet or loose tile should be clearly marked and immediately replaced.
Pool decks, locker rooms, entryways, and other areas may attract moisture and create unsafe slippery surfaces.
- Mopping is the best way to remove moisture from surfaces. It is important to maintain a schedule of when and where mopping should occur and to make sure it is enforced.
- Signs are another integral part of preventing slip and fall injuries. Moisture collection in some areas is unavoidable, but using signs and/or cones can effectively warn individuals of the hazard.
- Mats are another effective tool for controlling moisture on floors. Mats can be used to help dry shoes and collect moisture. Be careful, however, as mats can pose a problem in entryways since the high level of traffic can cause bunches and create a tripping hazard.
Make Slippery Areas Identifiable
Moveable signs and cones should be used to highlight areas where moisture collects, but permanent signs should also be used to alert individuals of other hazards. Signs should be installed on pool decks, in locker rooms, and areas with differences in elevation, and more. Also ensure that these areas are well lit whenever employees or patrons are on premises.
Perform Routine Cleaning
Aside from mopping areas where moisture collects, facilities should be routinely cleaned and mopped. After mopping make sure to leave as little moisture on the ground as possible and to post signs and cones indicating the area is slippery. Also, maintenance and cleaning employees should be instructed to keep track of potentially slippery areas and to make sure they are routinely maintained. Employees should also make sure to remove clutter and trash from areas to reduce tripping hazards.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Employees should be encouraged to wear appropriate footwear throughout the facility. Closed toed shoes should be required by all individuals within the facility.