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Slips result when there isn’t enough traction or friction between your foot and the surface you are walking on.
Trips happen when your foot contacts an obstacle or object in your path, including uneven walkways.
Falls occur when you become off balance, either on the same level or on an elevated surface.
Slips and trips are their own hazards and they can lead to falls. As a group slips, trips, and falls present a significant safety hazard in the workplace and no question about it, they can hurt.
We have all slipped and tripped. It’s not fun. Unfortunately, slip and trip hazards, like wet floors, snow, ice, and hoses are common. These situations are dangerous! When it comes to slips, well, you know the feeling – Unsteady and unsure of your footing. And slips often cause you to fall backward.
There are several common causes of slips you should watch for.
• Wet surfaces like an area where the floor was just cleaned
• A fork lift leaking oil onto the warehouse floor
• Spills that have not been cleaned up
• Weather hazards such as snow and ice
• Flooring or other walking surfaces that do not have the same degree of traction in all areas
As for trips, they can surprise you, making you feel wobbly and unsafe. With trips, the momentum often makes you fall forward. Some common causes of trips you should watch for, are:
• Obstructed view, like when you are carrying boxes
• Poor lighting caused by inadequate or burned out lights
• Wrinkled carpeting and rugs that cause uneven surfaces
• Uncovered cables, wires, and hoses from equipment running across the floor
• Open bottom drawers that stick out into the pathway
• And uneven walking surfaces that catch your feet
Slips and trips are categorized as same level fall hazards. That’s where something happens on a relatively flat surface that causes you to slip or trip and then fall. You may not even think of same level hazards as real fall hazards. That’s because they often involve simple activities, like crossing the parking lot or walking through the facility. But same level fall hazards can cause serious injuries.
On the other hand, elevated fall hazards may be more obvious. These are the type of hazards that occur when you are on a ladder or other raised surface, or when you are reaching up to get something. Some common causes of elevated fall hazards include:
• Openings in the wall or floor
• Missing or unsecure floor gratings
• Work platforms
• Improvised step-stools or ladders
As you can see, many things can result in slips, trips and falls. So pay attention! Be proactive about making your work area an injury free zone. Fall prevention takes planning, attentiveness, and using safe behaviors. Here are some safe behaviors you can adopt to help keep your work area free from falls:
• Pay Attention – no matter where or when, pay attention to your surroundings. You can avoid many slip, trip and fall hazards if you notice them first.
• Use Good Housekeeping – remove obstacles and clutter from walkways. Use tape or carpet tacks to secure mats, rugs and carpet to lay flat. And when you can, route wires and cables and hoses away from walkways or properly cover them if they must cross the floor. And don’t forget to close file cabinets and storage drawers when you are not using them.
• Remember to keep your work areas well lit.
• Adjust your pace. Make sure your speed and stride matches the walking surface. If the surface is slippery, wet or icy, walk slowly and take smaller steps.
• Wear proper footwear. Choose footwear that gives you proper traction and helps you stay steady and is appropriate for the task at hand. Whether on uneven sidewalks or slippery floors, stairs, or ladders, the right shoes can make a difference in your safety.
• Be aware of personal factors. Medical conditions, fitness levels, age and other factors can affect your balance and ultimately how well your body can handle a slip, trip or fall. If these factors put you at greater risk, take greater care. Avoid multi-tasking and distractions. Keep your mind on where you are stepping. Doing too many things at once and other distractions can lead you into unsafe situations.
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