Is Your Workplace Doing Everything it Can To Keep You Safe?

slips-trips-and-falls-control-procedures-online-anytimeAs we are all aware slips, trips, and falls are the most common ways that employees are injured on the job.  Many of these issues can easily be corrected or fixed.  The folks at Fireman’s Fund came out with a list of fixes and dos and do not to help avoid injured employees or customers.  The most common causes are:

  • Poor housekeeping (e.g., cluttered work spaces)
  • Lack of slip-resistant surfaces
  • Obstructed aisles or walkways
  • Water or grease spills and leaks
  • Lack of walking surface maintenance (e.g., potholes, cracked or buckled surfaces)
  • Inadequate snow and ice removal
  • Inadequate illumination of walking areas
  • Unmarked changes in elevation
  • Lack of handrails on stairs
  • Over-buffing of floor surfaces

You should follow this list to make sure that you property is in proper condition and that things are labeled so people are less likely to get injured.  If an injury does occur make sure that is it promptly reported and documented.

Interiors

  • Mark all changes in elevation. Ensure that changes in elevation are well lit.
  • Make sure stair handrails are present, in good condition, and comply with current building codes.
  • Ensure that handicap ramps have a gradual slope, no greater than one foot of elevation for every 12 feet of ramp.
  • Ramps must be well lit and equipped with handrails (contrasting color is advised). If ramps are painted, use a slip-resistant paint.
  • Use slip-resistant mats. If thick mats are used, they should be recessed. If not recessed, the edges should be beveled to prevent hazardous curling. Mats must be replaced once they become saturated with water.
  • Keep walkways and aisles clear of all obstructions.
  • Use slip-resistant coatings. Paint should not be used (unless it is slip resistant) since it usually increases slipperiness.
  • Don’t allow standing water.
  • Non-skid strips should be adhered securely so edges do not curl. Place them close enough together to eliminate slip spaces between the strips and check them regularly for wear. Consider using slip-resistant paint in place of non-skid strips to provide more complete coverage.
  • Establish scheduled restroom checks with log sheets. Spills should be immediately cleaned up. Repair plumbing leaks immediately.
  • When cleaning floors and/or applying coatings, follow the manufacturer’s recommended practices for use. Do not dilute coatings since this can reduce the slip resistance of the coating.
  • Use portable “wet floor” warning signs for spills and floor cleaning.
  • Inspect interior and exterior walking surfaces frequently for spills, tears in carpeting, chips in tiles, cracks, potholes or other traps that lead to caught heels or slips.

Exteriors

  • Fix surface depressions where water can collect and become ice.
  • Handicap ramps should be pitched at a safe angle and equipped with slip-resistant materials.
  • Utility covers should be flush with walking surfaces and painted in a contrasting color.
  • Clearly mark and illuminate all elevation changes.
  • Adequately illuminate all public areas, including parking lots.
  • Keep landscaping away from sidewalks.
  • Check parking and walking areas for potholes or other uneven surfaces regularly.
  • Avoid using parking lot wheel stops. If present, they need to be properly maintained and of contrasting color.
  • Speed bumps should be of contrasting color. There should be a 3-foot clear space at each end for elderly persons or small children to bypass the speed bump.
  • Ensure that roof drains do not discharge across sidewalks or into parking areas.
  • Drain grates located in pedestrian traffic areas should be of a contrasting color, with openings no more than one inch across. Grates must be maintained in good condition.
  • Exit signs should be illuminated and designed to stay lit in the event of power failure.
  • Clean any liquid spills in walking areas immediately.
  • Check for sprinkler over-spray in walking areas.
  • Equip three or more steps with a secure handrail.
  • Stairs should have non-skid tread or riser tips painted with contrast striping.
  • Provide ample trash receptacles.
  • Make sure balcony railings and stair handrails comply with current building codes for height and spacing.

Administrative controls

  • Have a written contract for all support services, (e.g., janitorial, snow removal, parking lot maintenance, electrical). Require that your firm be listed as an “additional insured” on the support services’ policy for enhanced liability protection, and that the contract has the appropriate indemnification and hold harmless language.
  • Ensure that insurance certificates are current and maintained on file with appropriate policy limits for all contractors who provide services.
  • Consider the use of slip-resistant, closed-toe shoes for employees.
  • Formulate a comprehensive slip, trip and fall prevention program.
  • Establish post-accident emergency procedures.
  • Provide employee training on how to recognize and remedy slip, trip and fall exposures, and how to respond to an accident.

If an Accident Should Occur Do:

  • Go immediately to the scene of the accident:
    • Be courteous.
    • Be businesslike.
    • Inspect the scene carefully.
    • Get all essential details.
  • Care for the injured person:
    • Make the injured person as comfortable as possible.
    • Arrange for prompt first aid or medical care. NOTE: Do not suggest that you will pay all doctor or hospital bills.
    • Ask the injured person how the accident happened.
  • Secure names of witnesses:
    • Tactfully ask for the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses. Are they friends or relatives of the injured party?
    • Get names and addresses of all employees present and have them complete an accident report as soon as possible.
    • If no employees saw the accident, have two or more of them inspect the scene and then fill out an accident report.
    • If a third party was involved, obtain their name, address and phone number.
    • Note if any surveillance cameras may have recorded the incident and make a copy of the recording for future reference.
  • Note and photograph all conditions that may have contributed to the incident:
    • Floor and stair surfaces: Are they clean and dry?
    • Lighting: Is the area well lit?
    • The customer’s shoe condition (tactfully).
    • Presence of fallen objects.
  • Save any objects involved in the accident.
  • Report every serious accident by telephone to your local insurance claims office.


Don’t:

  • Enter into a dispute with the injured party over the cause of the accident.
  • Reprimand any employees at the scene.
  • Offer to pay medical expenses.
  • Admit responsibility.
  • Mention insurance.
  • Discuss the incident with strangers now or later (including telephone calls).
What's your take? Continue the discussion with others over at the WCInsights LinkedIn Group.
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