According to the National Safety Council, around 25,000 slip, trip and fall accidents happen every day in workplaces all across the U.S. And that’s just one of many sobering statistics about this all-too-common risk:
- According to OSHA, slip and fall injuries account for the majority of industrial accidents, around 15 percent of all accidental deaths, about 25 percent of all reported injury claims, and more than 95 million lost work days every year.
- According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and fall injuries are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, as well as occupational injuries for workers 55 and older.
Some of the most common hazards that cause slip, trip and fall injuries include:
- Slippery surfaces such as a glossy tile or polished stone
- Wet surfaces caused by spills or foot traffic from outdoors
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Holes or broken surfaces
- Poorly marked and poorly lit walkways and hallways
- Slippery conditions due to mud, ice or water during inclement weather
As a business owner, you have a duty under the law to provide reasonable care in keeping your business in a safe condition for your customers and workers. And when a customer or employee slips on a wet floor or trips over an object, it can get costly. According to the National Safety Council, almost $70 billion is spent every year on medical expenses and workers' compensation claims for slip and fall accidents in the workplace. If it’s a customer who gets injured, you could be defending yourself in a costly negligence lawsuit.
The seed of prevention
You can’t prevent every slip, trip and fall accident. Between unsafe conditions that occasionally crop up, unsafe behaviors that are part of human nature and a lack of safety awareness, these incidents can happen anywhere and anytime. But the fact is, most of these incidents are preventable. So how do you prevent these potentially costly accidents from happening in your workplace?
Awareness is the seed of prevention, so fall risk management starts with being aware of the most high-risk areas in your workplace.
These common risk areas should be addressed as part of your routine maintenance schedule:
- Sidewalks and walkways. Normal wear and tear, along with seasonal temperature changes, can cause outdoor sidewalks and walkways to deteriorate. Concrete, cobblestone and brick walkways can settle over time, causing uneven surfaces. Inspect these areas regularly and keep outdoor walkways clear of obstacles.
- Carpeted floors. Carpeting and anti-skid mats are inherently slip-resistant, but check them often for tearing, fraying and loose or curling edges. Securely fix all mats to the floor.
- Handicap entrances. Clearly mark all handicap entrances and exits with appropriate signage.
- Linoleum, tile and wood floors. Smooth surfaces such as these need constant upkeep to prevent slips and falls. Keep these floors clean and free of water, oil and grease, especially in kitchen and cafeteria areas. Consider having your tiled or concrete floors etched to provide a rougher, skid-free surface, and covering your smooth floors with skid-resistant mats.
- Stairs. Make sure all stairwells and steps have sturdy handrails, are well lit and are free of grease, snow, ice and debris that could cause slips or trips.
- Lighting. Proper lighting both indoors and outdoors is crucial to preventing slip, trip and fall injuries. Conduct regular lighting inspections and replace burnt-out bulbs immediately.
- Housekeeping. Simply maintaining a tidy work environment will greatly reduce the possibility of slips, trips and falls. Designate aisles and keep them clear, and eliminate clutter from the workplace to reduce fall hazards.
Be aware of your high-risk areas, practice good housekeeping and put safety first. It’s the best formula for preventing costly slip, trip and fall injuries. Is your Texas business insurance ready for these potential liabilities? Contact your Higginbotham Insurance agent for a coverage review.