Silas is a safety inspector involved in reducing accidents. He obtained his Master of Science in Safety and MBA degree.
An Accident-Prone Person: How to Reduce Trip, Slip, and Fall Hazards
The challenge within the modern-day work and home environment is reducing the accident rate (Voss, 2019). A national concern exists as 2.2 million injuries happen every year from work-related accidents (Goetsch, 2019). Employee injuries have transpired because of trips, slips, and falls in the workplace. Work environments today include the office and likely space we occupy in our home.
Fall, slip, and trip events happen; not only does the victim feel vulnerable and embarrassed, but this type of event also accounts for 16% of the workplace dangers. The percentage may seem reasonable, although the events highlight a problem within the work and home environment. The danger in our workspace calls for a mitigation strategy to reduce the danger.
Most consider the office a low risk and the safest environment. However, the likelihood of an accident increases with each step a person takes throughout 24 hours. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (n.d.), the average person walks approximately 8,000 steps per day. One slip could create a severe impact on a person’s wellbeing. Flooring material accounts for more than $2 million in annual fall injuries. Fatalities exist as a worst-case scenario, while fractures are the most severe consequences of slips and falls. Therefore, flooring material and fracture injuries present an unacceptable risk and require awareness.
This article identifies the increase in slips, trips, and falls in the workplace and at home. Understanding the implications of an aging population requires preventive measures to reduce risk and present a safe and healthful environment.
Office Space Environment
Office space environments present unique hazards that can lead to a potentially debilitating injury (Neuffer, 2000). An injury caused by a slip and fall hazard may result from the polished floor tile placed in the building lobby. While the tile is pleasing to view, inclement weather presents a slip hazard while employees enter and exit the building. Workers have slipped on polished stone flooring material throughout the year.
During tumultuous weather periods, the risk level increases because of the reduced friction between the employees’ shoe soles and the flooring material. Less friction suggests that workplace hazards caused by a slip and fall illustrate the need to control the risk (Grainger, n.d.). Attention remains necessary to protect employees from hazards related to trips, slips, and falls. Further investigation should reveal why accidents happen and provide a path to prevention.
Implications of Trip, Slip, and Fall Hazards
Emphasis suggests looking where a person walks and keeping their eyes on the path (Neuffer, 2000). While this is a suggestion, safety professionals search for the cause and reason for workplace events. Proactive measures require attention to the search for the reason and reduce the risk. Overall, the responsibility to protect the worker is the employer according to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 (Goetsch, 2019). Identifying water on the floor surface requires attention to lower the trip's risk level, slip, or fall.
Slippery floors arising from spilled coffee, liquids, or building entrance conditions exposed to rain and ice rely on good housekeeping (Neuffer, 2000). Good housekeeping reduces slick surfaces that result from inclement weather. A proactive program to diminish slips and falls comprises adopting warning signs to highlight slippery floors and arranging floor mats at each entryway. Slippery entryways resulting from outdoor moisture emerge in an occurrence hazardous to workers.
Company productivity, financial impact, legal implications, and workforce safety concerns result from accidents (Bernardo, 2009). A sequence of events associated with a human error results in an unsafe act (Wiegmann & Shappell, 2000). Reducing accidents is a delicate balance while generating company revenue and preventing an accident. In most cases, the company accepts a level of risk, and the workforce is on the front line subjected to the danger.
According to Kloepple (2019), eliminating trips, slips, and falls in the workplace is essential, and the accident is the second most costly workplace injury. Accidents caused by “slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims” (Kloepple, 2019, p. 19). Flooring materials contribute to two million annual fall injuries (Helbock, 2019). The increased injuries and rising death rates associated with slips and falls have been on the rise. Workplace fall, slip, and trip hazards exist and call for consideration to reduce the risk and lower the accident rate by analyzing why the event took place.
Falls Increase with Age
It's a fact many of us dread hearing from anyone to include medical and safety professionals. You're getting older, and the chance of injury increases exponentially. For example, fall events increase with age. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (n.d.), one person out of three over the age of 65 experiences a fall. Over 1.8 million people over the age of 65 arrive and receive treatment in an emergency room after falling. Every year, 30% of people over the age of 65 sustain a fall, and 10% result in serious injury. Among people 75 and older, 67% of fall fatalities exist. Preventive measures become necessary to reduce the population injury rate, especially with our current population.
Besides age, the National Floor Safety Institute (n.d.) mentions that 85% of workers' compensation claims result from the employee slipping on a slick floor. Over 22% of slip and fall events result in more than 31 days away from work during the recovery period. Around 13 million fall events happen annually and remain the number one cause of accidental injury. A disabling fall injury escalates the cost of approximately $250,000 after an event through lost wages, insurance premiums, and treatment. Falls happen in many industries to include construction, mining, and transportation. Events that include trips, slips, and falls highlight the need for awareness through a preventive strategy.
Thousands of injuries take place from trips, slips, and falls. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (2021), statistics highlight injuries requiring a strategy to reduce workplace danger. Emphasis areas include the cause of an event. For example, slips evolve due to little friction and traction from the show and the surface. Common causes include:
• Wet or oily surfaces.
• Weather moisture.
• Loose rugs and mats.
• The flooring of varying traction degrees.
Next, trips happen due to obstructed employee view, low lighting, cluttered walkways, uncovered cables, uneven steps, and buckled carpet. Prevention methods include good housekeeping. Housekeeping entails cleaning up spills, mopping and sweeping debris, and removing obstacles from walkways. Cover cables and keep walk areas clear along with appropriate lighting. The strategy reduces the likelihood and severity of the risk. The prevention methods should reduce trip, slip, and fall accidents in the workplace and at home.
Final Event Outcome
Significant organizational and home challenges exist as a trip, slip, and fall events escalate and worsen as people age. The danger exists and requires an effort to protect an accident-prone person from potential harm. With the increase in slips, trips, and falls within the work and home environment, preventive measures become increasingly important. As people age, the risk of injury increases with every step. Danger lurks, and the population must take action to reduce falls, slips, and trips. Otherwise, the hazard continues to present itself and blocks our focus. Let's not let our age trip us up, slip out of view, or fall into our path.
- Bernardo, A. (2009). The impact of the occupational safety and health administration on workplace safety in the United States (Doctoral dissertation). http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.462.1269&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. (2021). Prevention of slips, trips, and falls. https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/falls.html
- Goetsch, D. L. (2019). Occupational safety and health for technologists, engineers, and managers (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
- Helbock, M. (2019). Personal injury on commercial property. https://www.personalinjurysandiego.org/personal-injury/accidents-injury-on-commercial-property/
- Kloepple, S. (2019). Eliminating slips, trips, and falls. Buildings, 113(7), 19-21. http://search.ebscohost.com.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsggo&AN=edsgcl.597251604&site=eds-live&scope=site
- National Floor Safety Institute. (n.d.). Slip and fall quick facts. https://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/
- Neuffer, M. (2000, April). Studying the causes of slips, trips and falls. Industrial Safety & Hygiene News. https://www.ishn.com/articles/83435-studying-the-causes-of-slips-trips-and-falls
- Wiegmann, D. & Shappell, S. (2000). The human factors analysis and classification system - HFACS. https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_documents/humanfactors_classAnly.pdf