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Slips, trips and falls

Sixty thousand workers in Canada get injured annually due to fall accidents. This number represents about 15% of the “time-loss injuries” accepted by workers’ compensation boards across Canada.

Statistics show that approximately 60 percent of falls happen as a result of slips and trips.
Slips happen where there is too little traction between the footwear and the walking surface.

Common causes of slips are:

• occasional spills, wet or oily surfaces

• weather hazards

• loose, unanchored rugs or mats

• walking surfaces that do not have same degree of traction in all areas

Common causes of tripping are:

• poor lighting or obstructed view

• clutter in your way

• uncovered cables

• bottom drawers not being closed

• wrinkled carpeting, uneven (steps, thresholds) walking surfaces

Good housekeeping can prevent falls due to slips and trips. It includes:

• cleaning all spills immediately, mark the spill or wet area

• mopping or sweeping debris from floors

• removing obstacles from walkways and always keeping them free of clutter

• securing (tacking, taping, etc.) mats, rugs and carpets that do not lay flat

• always closing file cabinet or storage drawers

• covering cables that cross walkways

• keeping working areas and walkways well lit, replace used light bulbs and faulty switches

In workplaces where floors may be oily or wet or where workers spend considerable time outdoors, prevention of fall accidents should focus on selecting proper footwear. Since there is no footwear with anti-slip properties for every condition, consultation with manufacturers’ is highly recommended.

Properly fitting footwear increases comfort and prevents fatigue which, in turn, improves safety for the employee.

You can reduce the risk of slipping on wet flooring by:

• taking your time and paying attention to where you are going

• adjusting your stride to a pace that is suitable for the walking surface and the tasks

• walking with the feet pointed slightly outward

• making wide turns at corners

You can reduce the risk of tripping by:

• always using installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks

• using a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light

• ensuring that things you are carrying or pushing do not obstruct your view

Written by: Pat Olson