According to the National Safety Council, falls in the work place account for 70 billion dollars annually in worker’s compensation claims.
Worker’s compensation claims of this magnitude can drive up an employer’s premiums. It only makes sense to take precautions to prevent work place slip and falls and workplace trip and falls. Following are some inexpensive precautions employers can train their employees to take to prevent injuries form falls in the workplace.
Procedures for Handling Wet Floors to Prevent Slip and Falls
It goes without saying that a wet floor sign should be used anytime the floor has been cleaned, mopped or is otherwise wet. The folding yellow teepee-style wet floor warning signs can be purchased form numerous supply stores online for under $30. But do you have a procedure in place for your employees when they discover a wet floor?
Never leave a wet floor unguarded. This simple rule is an industry standard in the retail industry, but the career office employee may have never heard it. One of the worst mistakes of a well-intentioned employee is to leave the spill to go find a mop or a sign. The next person who walks in may not see the spill until it is too late. Train your employees to stay with the spill until another employee comes along. Then, ask that employee to go get a warning sign or cleaning supplies while the first employee guards the spill and warns other persons.
Eliminating Trip and Fall Hazards
Some of the most common trip hazards in an office are loose cords, open drawers and files (and other clutter) in the hallway. Computers, phones, coffee makers and other office machines all have one thing in common—they have cords that have to plug into a wall somewhere. For some reason, it always seems like the layout of the plugs never matches what the office layout needs to be. Be sure to inspect your employee’s offices to be sure that all cords are tucked away properly so that they cannot snag on feet or chair wheels as employees leave their work areas.
Open drawers extending into walkways and workspaces can pose a trip hazard to unsuspecting coworkers. Likewise, clutter in the halls and walkways whether from files, or boxes or trash can create trip hazards. Have a policy for keeping all main walkways and hallways clear. Furthermore, be sure that your office space has plenty of storage room for files and/or boxes if those can be anticipated to pileup in your line of work.
Slipping and Tripping Hazards on Stairs
Stairs can pose both slip and trip hazards to your employees and customers. Stairs need to be monitored for spills or loose debris that might cause one’s foot to slip. If you have stairs that can get slippery (i.e. wood stairs are notorious for becoming slip hazards), add safety grip strips available from hardware stores to reduce the risk. Furthermore, be sure you have all of the required OSHA approved handrails for people to stabilize with as they ascend and descend the stairs. Lastly, be sure that there is adequate lighting around the stairs so that people can see.
Tripping and Slipping Hazards Outside the Office
All walk and parking areas should be kept free of clutter and potential trip hazards as well. Wheel stops are a serious trip hazard in parking lots. As a result, many businesses have stopped using them and paint the pavement instead. If you must use wheel stops, you should be sure they are brightly painted so they can be seen during the day and well lit so they can be seen at night.
Run-off from gutters can cause water to stagnate allowing slippery algae to build up. This can be a dangerous trip hazard if not controlled. Gutters and Drains should be checked to ensure there are no accumulations building up on sidewalks or in parking lot walking areas. If they pour into walk areas, they should be redirected and the area bleached to kill off the algae.
As a business owner, you need to be vigilant about safety. After all, you are inviting people to come onto your property for your benefit. By adopting a few common-sense safety policies, you can minimize the risk of an accidental fall in your workplace.
About the Author
Paul H. Cannon of Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., a personal injury trial law firm based in Houston, Texas. Paul is Certified in Personal Injury Trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been licensed to practice law in Texas since 1995.