Slip and trip injuries are some of the most common injuries employees experience on the job. These injuries are preventable. There are many safety best practices that can be implemented to reduce the risk of these injuries.
Slip and Trip Injury Statistics
As stated above, slip and trip injuries are extremely common in the workplace. It is difficult to find slip and trip injury fatal injury statistics without including falls in the data as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 805 fatal work injuries due to slips, trips, and falls in 2020. There were 30,160 non-fatal injuries due to slips and trips that required days away from work in 2020.
These numbers do not include the injuries that an employee had to get medical care for but did not miss work. It is safe to say that there are most likely hundreds of thousands of slips and trips occurring every single year.
10 Ways to Prevent Slips and Trips in the Workplace
There are many different ways slips and trips can be prevented in the workplace. These injuries can be difficult to prevent due to the sheer amount of exposure that is present due to employees walking around the workplace all day, but it is not impossible.
Browse the ten safety best practices provided below. Some of the ideas will be more applicable to your workplace than others. A combination of safeguards is the most effective way to prevent workplace injuries when completely eliminating a hazard is not possible.
Ensure Mats and Rugs Are Secure
Employees can slip or trip due to loose mats or rugs. It is vital that mats and rugs are secured to the floor. They should not move when someone steps on them. The edges should be secured so that they do not come up, which can result in an employee tripping over the mat or rug. This commonly occurs when opening doors causes the edge of the mat or rug to pull up.
Barricade Unsafe Areas
Many workplaces are extremely large and house a variety of work processes. There are many areas where pedestrians need to be, and there may be various areas where employees should not enter. Barricades are an example of an engineering control, which is one of the most effective safeguards that can be implemented. By barricading hazardous work areas, slips and trips are effectively eliminated since employees are no longer exposed to walking through the area.
Examples of areas that should be barricaded include areas with moving equipment, storage areas for materials that are not picked by hand, areas that are consistently wet, etc.
Clearly Mark Paths of Travel
For areas where employees are allowed to enter and walk through, marking paths of travel is a best practice. By clearly marking the paths of travel, employees know where they should and should not walk. These paths also communicate to equipment operators where pedestrians may be, as well as communicate that objects or materials should not be stored in these areas.
Organize Work Areas
Poor organization of work areas is one of the leading causes of trip injuries in the workplace. When the organization of a facility is poor, there is an increased risk of employees to trip over something. All tools, supplies, materials, and other objects should be neatly stored away from walking paths. Employees should understand where everything is kept in a workplace.
Practice Good Housekeeping
Good housekeeping is closely related to ensuring work areas are organized. Once the proper organization of a work area is set up, efforts need to be directed at maintaining the areas through proper housekeeping. Employees need to understand that everything needs to be put back into its place after use and that there should be nothing placed on the ground if it is not meant to be there. Holding employees accountable for the cleanliness of their work areas is vital to ensuring the workplace is well-maintained.
Keep Floors Dry
Keeping floors dry is part of the housekeeping process. For some workplaces, doing so can be difficult. Work processes can create slippery floors. Also, workplaces that are exposed to the weather may be frequently wet, resulting in slick surfaces. Any moisture or spills should be immediately marked and cleaned up whenever possible if employees are required to walk through them.
Install Anti Slip Tape Where Needed
Installing anti-slip tape is a great way to reduce the risk of slips and falls. It is commonly applied on stairs to ensure sufficient traction of employees’ shoes and the surface of the stairs. This tape can also be applied near entryways, where moisture may be present, or other work areas that tend to get slick.
Poor lighting contributes to many slips and trips in the workplace. When employees are not able to see where they are walking, they may not see changes in elevation, objects on the ground, or slick surfaces. All work areas where employees are required to enter or walk through should be adequately lit so that they can make it where they need to go safely. Any broken lights should be immediately replaced.
Ensure Employees Can Clean Footwear When Needed
For workplaces where employees must walk outdoors and indoors, they should be provided a way to clean their shoes and boots. It is common that there are mats present in entry doors at most workplaces, but additional safeguards may be needed. Mats should be placed at any entry and exit door so employees can wipe their footwear off when coming into the facility.
Additionally, water hoses, hand brushes, or boot brushes may be needed for workplaces where employees are walking through mud or other sticky substances and then coming indoors. Mats will not suffice to get these employees’ footwear clean.
Require Slip-Resistant Footwear in the Workplace
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense for preventing injuries. Slip-resistant footwear is an example of personal protective equipment that can be utilized to reduce the risk of slips in the workplace. NIOSH completed a study of 17,000 food services workers from 226 school districts across the United States, and it found that using 5-star rated slip-resistant shoes significantly reduced workers’ compensation claims for slip injuries.
The ASTM F2913 testing standard is most commonly referred to for measuring the slip resistance of footwear in action.
Slip and trip injuries can be difficult to prevent. After all, employees spend a lot of the work day walking around the workplace. By following the safety best practices mentioned in this post as well as other ones, these injuries can be prevented. Employees need to be trained on these safe work practices and held accountable for following these practices. Consistency in implementing and maintaining safeguards is vital for preventing any type of workplace injury.
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