The statistics surrounding workplace slips, trips and falls are striking. Whether climbing scaffolding or drifting between meetings all day, you can be killed or seriously injured in a slip, trip or fall at work.
According to Injury Facts 2016, slips, trips and falls were responsible for 724 deaths and 229,190 injuries in 2013. That number includes:
- Construction: 302 deaths/21,890 injuries
- Education and health services: 13/47,740
- Manufacturing: 42/21,430
- Transportation and warehousing: 35/21,970
- Professional and business services: 91/19,300
- Wholesale trade: 25/12,640
Construction workers are at the greatest risk. But look at education and healthcare, with nearly 50,000 injuries. Workers in professional and business services, which include accounting, advertising, architectural, engineering, computer and consulting, saw 91 deaths.
Why are we at Such Risk for Slips, Trips and Falls?
You might assume only falls from height cause death and injury, but falls on the same level accounted for 110 deaths and 141,060 injuries in 2013. Why is this happening?
We walk everywhere and we rarely think about it. We are distracted with handheld devices and generally on autopilot, not noticing the hazards we encounter every day. We often are rushing to get somewhere, don’t hold the handrails on stairways and allow clutter to build up in our work areas.
Hazards in the Workplace
Four risk categories affect slips, trips and falls – environment, equipment, work practices and individual behavior – and common causes can be seen in every industry, according to OSHA.
- Grease, food or blood spills on smooth floors or walking surfaces
- Lack of friction between shoe and floor material
- Transition from one floor surface to another, or uneven surfaces
- Loose rugs or floor boards
- Inappropriate footwear for the job
- Weather hazards, such as ice
- Hoses, cords or wires across walkways
- Clutter in work areas
- Open file or desk drawers
- Irregular stair risers and improper demarcation between steps
- Poor lighting or glare
- Inadequate or missing signage