It’s been reported that slip and fall injuries are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims. They are also the primary cause for lost days of work. The takeaway from these statistics is the need for businesses to make their workplaces safer for employees.
Causes to note
Slip-and-fall injuries on your premises can result from a variety of factors:
- Insufficient light.
- Improper use of ladders.
- Loose handrails.
- Loose or irregular surfaces and walkways, such as rocks.
- Obstructions (such as wiring).
- Open flooring (such as uncovered or unguarded pits).
- Wet, slippery, or oily floors or stairs.
You can minimize or avoid slip-and-fall injuries to employees by taking certain actions:
Identify problems or hazards so you can fix them. Of course, it isn’t always easy to notice potential problems or to fix them simply or without substantial cost, but you can certainly make a start.
- Tour your premises. Look around to find obvious problems, such as unlit stairs, loose railings, or torn carpeting. A fix to a potential hazard may be as easy as removing clutter, installing non-slip treads to stair edges, and adding more light. Make sure electrical cords do not cross walkways.
- Ask employees for input. What do they think can be done to make them safer? Encourage them to report any situations they think are hazardous.
Use caution tape or signs to denote any hazards until you can correct them.
Make it your practice to repeat your examinations and corrections on a regular basis (say quarterly). While you may have fixed one hazard, another may occur later on.
Review employee practices. For example, it’s up to the company to require that employees wear proper footwear. For example, injuries in restaurants can be cut dramatically by requiring staff to wear rubber-soled shoes. Keeping shoe laces tied is a simple fix.
Also make sure that employees are trained in ladder usage (e.g., using proper fall protection when working above four feet for most industries). Failing to require two employees to handle a job requiring a ladder (one to climb and one to secure the ladder) can result in injury that might otherwise have been avoided.
Institute procedures to maintain safe floors. For example, be sure that wet floors are promptly mopped and that spills are immediately removed. Signs to alert people to wet floors should be displayed immediately and not removed until cleanup can be made. Procedures for maintaining safe floors should be included in employee manuals. Instruct your staff to pick up objects that have fallen, such as paperclips. Employees should be trained on proper safety procedures.
Help with correcting problems
You may not notice or understand potential problems and may need help is identifying them. Here are some resources to help:
- Check with your trade association. Usually they have material available to help with this issue.
- Work with OSHA. Read this fact sheet. Also consider participating in OSHA’s ADD.
- Work with your Sentry representative.
The old adage of an ounce of prevention is apt for slip-and-fall injuries. By making changes to your premises and your staff’s actions, many of which are minor, you can keep your workforce safe as well as reduce your injury-related costs. Talk with a Sentry representative to learn more.
Article provided by Sentry Insurance, courtesy of Barbara Weltman, publisher of Big Ideas for Small Business, a monthly newsletter. Barbara has been a tax and business attorney since 1977 and, through the years, has developed a reputation as an insightful source of knowledge for small businesses.
For more information, visit: http://www.barbaraweltman.com.