By the Numbers
In the United States, slips, trips, and falls:
- Constitute the majority of general industry accidents.
- Cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.
- Account for over $70 billion in workers compensation and medical costs each year.
- Account for about 65 percent of all work days lost.
The construction industry accounts for the highest rate of fall-related fatalities. Health services, wholesale, and retail industries account for the highest frequency of non-fatal fall injuries.
Depending on the severity of the incidents, the resulting costs of slips, trips, and falls can be substantial to both the employer and employee.
The cost impact on the employer can include the following:
- Lost productivity
- Business disruptions
- Increased workers
- compensation premiums
- Medical expenses
- Accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures
- Wages paid to injured employees for absences not covered by workers compensation
- Training replacement employee or handling extra workload while injured employee is on medical leave
The cost impact on an employee who is injured in the workplace may include the following:
- Wages lost while on medical leave
- Medical expenses
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Reduced quality of life
Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls
The majority of slips, trips, and falls occur due to flooring, including uneven floor surfaces, unsuitable floor coverings, wet floors, and changes in levels. Almost one-fourth of incidents occur due to inadequate footwear. Other causes include, but are not limited to, trailing cables, poor lighting, poor housekeeping, failure to warn, and insufficient training.
With proper workplace design and consistent maintenance, the occurrence of these incidents can be significantly reduced, if not completely prevented. Here are some recommendations
for reducing the risk of slips, trips, and falls in the workplace.
Re-lay or stretch carpets that bulge or have become bunched.
Use non-slip rugs or anchor rugs to floor.
Eliminate uneven floor surfaces where possible.
Mark/highlight step edges and changes in elevation.
The work habits and behavior of each individual are also contributing factors to the risks of slips, trips, and falls.
Reduce Wet or Slippery Surfaces
- Clean-up spills immediately.
- Keep up on snow and ice removal.
- Apply a non-slip coating to slippery surfaces.
- Adhere to a strict housekeeping policy with respect to cleaning up fluids/liquids/greases.
- Where wet processes are used, maintain drainage and provide false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places or provide appropriate waterproof footgear.
Proper Footwear with Good Traction
The right footwear can make a significant difference in improving traction and reducing the risk of accident. Encourage employees to do the following:
- Wear slip resistant shoes if working on wet or greasy surfaces.
- Wear ice grippers when working in snowy/icy conditions.
- Wear footwear appropriate to the task and working conditions.
The work habits and behavior of each individual are also contributing factors to the risks of slips, trips, and falls. Training employees and increasing awareness will help improve safety in the workplace. Remind employees of the following:
- Don’t carry objects in a way that limits vision – ask for help to manage a bulky load.
- Pay attention.
- Take your time. Adjust stride to the task – avoid undue speed.
- Use handrails on stairs.
- Watch where you are going.
- Refrain from using a cell phone while walking.
- Don’t wear sunglasses in low-light areas.