What’s the best way to prevent slips and falls? Based on the number of injuries in the workplace due to slippery floor conditions, there is no simple answer.
A slip and fall occurs whenever there is too little friction or traction between your feet and the surface you are walking on.
While the major cause of slip and falls is surface contamination that reduces the contact between the feet and the floor surface, there are several other factors that also contribute to slip falls like the environment, footwear, floor material, use of surface, behaviour. Some of the contaminants can be water, oil, dust and anything that reduces the traction and make the floor surface slippery.
No single solution, any one solution – be it slip-resistant shoes, micro etching, mats, proper cleaning practices or worker awareness – will not eliminate the hazard. OH&S professionals who want to implement, upgrade or review their slip-prevention programs need to ensure that they consider all aspects of what causes a slip and what can be done to reduce or eliminate one of the workplace’s most common hazards.
Malcolm C. Robbins, a forensic engineer in San Diego who studies slip-and-fall accidents, said that unless someone can design a 100 percent slip-resistant environment and plan for the worst condition possible, the hazard cannot be eliminated. “If you say something is 90 percent effective, that still leaves 10 percent for an accident.”
What the Workplace Safety and Insurance board reports in Ontario
● Each year there are about 17,000 lost-time injuries due to falls in the workplace*
● 65% of all fall-related injuries are from “same level”*
● One in five lost-time injuries result from falls*
● Every year about 20 people die in Ontario because of workplace falls*
● 80 workers are injured every day because of a fall – that’s one every 20 minutes*
● An average WSIB claim is $11,771; factor in other costs like lost productivity and staff replacement, and the cost can be as much as four times more – approximately $59,000 per injury*
● with a profit margin of 5%, sales/services required to cover the total cost of one injury equals about $1.2 million*
Source: *WSIB “Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in the Workplace”
Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that employers take every reasonable precaution to protect workers, provide information and instruction, and ensure that workers properly use or wear the required equipment. Employers, supervisors and workers can be prosecuted for not complying with the law.
Refer to industry-specific regulations for details on legislative compliance. Your health and safety association can provide this information to you.
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