Hazards such as uneven surfaces or distracted walking can pose a serious threat to Postal Service™ employees. Last year, the United States Postal Service® reported over 16,000 Postal Service employees were victims of a slip, trip, or fall.
To bring awareness to this issue, USPS® is sponsoring National Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention Week, a public service campaign that offers safety tips and emphasizes the impact that slip, trip, and fall incidents have on employees, customers, and the organization. USPS National Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Week runs October 16–22, 2021, and this year’s theme is “Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention Deserves Your Attention.”
Last year, most slip, trip, and fall incidents involved mail carriers. They tripped stepping onto a curb or uneven sidewalks, slipped on wet surfaces and fell because they missed steps exiting vehicles, didn’t use handrails on stairs, or stepped into a hole in a customer’s yard. The common factor in all these accidents was inattention, and almost half of the injuries resulted in at least one day away from work.
The following tips can help prevent these incidents:
- Wear proper footwear. Choose high-traction, slip-resistant footwear.
- Stay away from wet leaves, slippery surfaces, or icy areas, whenever possible. Shorten your steps and shuffle your feet when near slippery surfaces.
- Be alert. On the work room floor or out on the route, things change quickly. Always remain focused, alert, and ready to react to the conditions in front of you.
- Where available, use handrails or other stable supports. Holding on to something keeps you steady when ascending and descending stairs.
- When entering and exiting vehicles, keep one hand on the vehicle or grab bar, so you can catch yourself if you start to slip.
- Don’t carry a load you can’t see over.
Housekeeping is also important for preventing slips, trips, and falls:
- Keep walkways, aisles, and stairs free of tools, materials, and other hazards.
- Keep cords, power cables, and air hoses out of walkways.
- Keep the floor clear of trash and plastic straps.
- Block off and mark floors or areas that are being cleaned or repaired.
- Promptly clean leaks or spills on floors, stairs, entryways, and loading docks.
When it’s rainy or snowy, wipe your shoes thoroughly on the doormat. Floor mats can keep floors dry by removing moisture and soil from footwear; however, improper or poorly maintained mats can pose a hazard and cause falls or other types of accidents. As a preventative measure, use these essential floor mat safety practices:
- When inspecting mats (particularly lightweight mats), ensure they are not aged, worn, or improperly placed.
- Make sure mats are lying flat against the floor without curls, ridges, or puckering.
- Mats near doors must align with the door threshold and cover the width of the door opening.
- Mat colors must contrast with the color of the floor for high visibility. Poor visibility may increase the tripping hazard.
- Make sure the mats are slip resistant under all foreseeable conditions.
Falls from standing on chairs or other unauthorized surfaces can also cause injuries that are easily prevented:
- Make step stools readily available.
- Always use an approved step stool or ladder instead of a chair or table.
- Do not place the step stool on a desk or other unstable surface. Place the step stool on a firm surface and make sure it is fully open.
- Check the rated weight capacity of the step stool or ladder before using it.
- Move step stool or ladder close to your work instead of leaning or reaching to the side.
Employees must be diligent about examining their path and work area 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 blue.usps.gov/hr/safety/slips-trips-falls-2.htm.
USPS National Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Week is coming soon to a facility near you. In October, watch for upcoming Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention Week campaign information and scheduled employee activities.
— Occupational Safety and Health,
Human Resources, 8-26-21