A Trip You Don’t Want to Take: Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
- Slips, trips, and falls cause nearly 700 fatalities per year and many more injurious accidents in the workplace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- There are three physical factors involved in slips, trips, and falls: friction, momentum, and gravity, and each one plays an important role. Friction is the resistance between objects, momentum is calculated by the speed and mass of an object, and gravity is the force exerted on an object by the earth.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
- Slips are a loss of balance caused by too little friction between your feet and the surface you walk on. Loss of traction is the leading cause of workplace slips. Slips can be caused by wet surfaces, spills, or weather hazards like ice or snow. Slips are more likely to occur when you run, wear the wrong kind of shoes, are in a hurry, or don’t pay attention to where you’re walking.
- Trips occur when your foot hits an object and you are moving with enough momentum to be thrown off balance. Trips are more likely to happen when you are in a hurry and don’t pay attention to where you’re going.
- Falls occur when you move too far off your center of gravity and become unbalanced. Falls are the number one reason for workplace fatalities.
You can avoid slips by following these safety precautions:
- Practice safe walking skills. Take short steps on slippery surfaces to keep your center of gravity under you and point your feet slightly outward.
- Clean up or report spills right away. Even minor spills can be very dangerous.
- Don’t let grease accumulate at your workplace.
- Be extra cautious on smooth surfaces, such as newly waxed floors. Also be careful walking on loose carpeting.
To prevent trip hazards:
- Make sure you can see where you are walking. Don’t carry loads that you cannot see over.
- Keep walking and working in well-lit areas, especially at night.
- Keep the workplace clean and tidy. Store materials and supplies in the appropriate storage areas.
- Arrange furniture and office equipment so that they don’t interfere with walkways or pedestrian traffic in your area.
- Properly maintain walking areas and alert the appropriate authorities regarding potential maintenance-related hazards.
To avoid falls consider the following measures:
- Don’t jump off landings or loading docks. Use the stairs.
- Repair or replace stairs or handrails that are loose or broken.
- Keep passageways and aisles clear of clutter and make sure they are well-lit.
- Wear shoes with appropriate non-slip soles.
Employees must be diligent about examining their path and work areas for hazards. Report hazards to your supervisor using PS Form 1767, Report of Hazard, Unsafe Condition, or Practice. Supervisors can be proactive in preventing slips, trips, and falls by documenting unsafe practices and conditions, while conducting employee observations and removing reported hazards.
For more information and resources to help prevent slip, trip, and fall incidents, visit the Safety Resource Toolbox at.