Best practices for slip, trip, and fall prevention
By RAS (Risk Administration Services, Inc.)
As we all know, snow has now recently fallen again this year – and across a wide part of Minnesota! So, our school districts are now getting back into our more common slip, trip, and fall (no pun intended) months.
Even though we probably can’t really change some weather-related slip, trip, and fall exposures, let’s resolve not to be passive or complacent. After all, slips, trips, and falls are the primary cause of lost days from work and are also the second leading cause of accidental death and disability after automobile accidents. And, these claims continue to cost employers, employees, and workers’ compensation insurers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
To help mitigate (if not eliminate) these claims during the days, weeks, and months ahead, consider the following best practices for slips, trips, and falls.
1. Assemble and administer a slip, trip, and fall prevention team.
Members of this team could include environmental/maintenance/facility services personnel, safety officers, departmental supervisors, and employee representatives from “at risk” areas. Meet as a team quarterly at a minimum.
2. Create, distribute, and enforce a footwear policy.
While this may require some negotiation, employers and employees should recognize that inadequate footwear accounts for 24% of these types of claims and is the second leading cause of all slip, trip, and fall accidents according to the National Floor Safety Institute.
3. Complete a hazard assessment in all areas twice per year at minimum.
Identify and remediate any potential hazards before injury incidents occur. Poor flooring and environmental issues cause 55% of slip, trip, and fall accidents according to the National Floor Safety Institute.
4. Review your unique history of slip, trip, and fall incidents; look for trends to remediate.
Loss and exposure data and results do matter. Implement needed changes in (slip, trip, and fall) procedures, equipment, or staff education based upon your hazard and trend assessments.
5. Complete an incident investigation immediately after any slip, trip, and fall occurrence or near miss.
Investigate incidents or events thoroughly to best determine their root cause. Repeating the more comprehensive hazard assessment at this time (following an incident or event) may also be beneficial.
6. Take pictures of the injury incident site, surrounding areas, conditions, and footwear worn at the time of any injury incident.
While it’s sometimes difficult to determine or enforce, if improper footwear (outside of your enforced footwear policy) was worn at the time of the incident, the workers’ compensation claim may not be compensable.
7. Evaluate housekeeping procedures.
Use waxes which have non-slip characteristics. Review the coefficient of friction data sheets of floor cleaning products to ensure (or at least lessen the likelihood) that slippery surfaces are not created.
8. Develop protocols for high-risk areas
Frequently review and reconsider your housekeeping, floor maintenance, or spill response procedures, especially for those areas perhaps more prone (e.g., entryways, parking lots, stairs/stairwells, etc.) to risks of accidents.
9. Ensure appropriate training for employees.
Ensure adequate notice to, understanding of, and compliance with safe work practices. Use disciplinary action for noncompliance when needed and appropriate.
10. Designate staff responsible for the following ongoing prevention tasks:
- Daily walk-through inspections of “at-risk” areas to correct any potential hazards.
- Hang awareness posters in designated employee areas; rotate posters to keep information fresh and eye-catching.
- Be a first responder for spill cleanup.
- Provide a regular supply of absorbent materials to staff for quick clean-up of smaller spills.
- Apply ice melt before and after precipitation.
- Shovel all staff and visitor walkways.
- Provide buckets of salt/sand mixture by employee entries/exits.
- Provide umbrella bags at employee and visitor entrances on rainy days.
- Lay out appropriate length matting at all entrances per ANSI/ASSE standard A1264.2 (longer mats on wetter days).
- Train maintenance personnel to clean floors for safety as well as appearance.
- Follow up on all hazard assessment corrective measures to determine effectiveness.
- Post signs in areas where hazards cannot be corrected or removed.
11. Be involved in construction projects.
When installing new flooring, consider slipperiness, possible exposure to spills, use, traffic, and distracting patterns. Work with subcontractors to determine their slip/trip prevention plans when working in your facility.
12. Keep internal records for your protection.
Track maintenance procedures, products used, inspection reports, and training programs. Document incidents, investigations, and remediation steps. In the event of litigation, these can help to prove that you are doing everything possible to prevent occurrences.
For more information about slips, trips, and falls, other risk management-related issues, and RAS Companies generally, visit the RAS website at https://rascompanies.com.