Slips and Falls: housekeeping and the buddy system

Are slips, trips, and falls on the job a serious problem? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) slips and falls account for about two hundred thousand injuries with 600 deaths each year. They are a serious problem.

About half of all on the job injuries are due to either overexertion or falls, each at about twenty five percent according to Liberty Mutual. Slips and falls can occur anywhere:

* Liquid spills, like oil or water
* Icy walkways
* Staircases
* Uneven sidewalks and paving
* Steelworkers or roofers
* Tripping on an unsecured area rug
* Changing a light bulb on a step ladder
* Carrying a load with blocked vision

Notice the first four causes involve improper maintenance, the next is improper personal protection equipment, and the last three can be avoided by proper techniques learned through training.

Falls from elevated working platforms are ten percent of all accidents (included in the twenty five for falls). Roofers shingling a house or steel workers wear harnesses and tie off to a stable anchor. The leash diminishes the impact of the fall.

If you need a step ladder to change a light bulb, have a buddy stabilize the ladder. Don't use the wheeled desk chair.

Walk around your work space. Are the floors level or do trip ledges exist? How about the parking lot? Potholes, cracks, uneven pavement? Sidewalks: any heaving? Are there any dark corners or hallways? Ample landings on stairs?

Are any storage areas or hallways crowded? Extension cords under rugs or across walkways? Eliminate all extension cords, they're nothing but trouble waiting to happen.

Train your people on proper ladder techniques. Be vigilant regarding proper use of personal protection equipment like harnesses, hard hats and safety eyewear.

Use proper transfer techniques to avoid spills, but clean spills immediately, do your maintenance and housekeeping and ask your insurance company safety professional for ideas and educational training tools.

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