Falls happen to almost everyone at some point. While some falls are not a big deal, others can cause serious injuries or even death. Slips, trips and falls are a common cause of injuries and deaths in the workplace. Most are preventable if only employers took proper steps to ensure worker safety.
Slips, trips and falls account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths on the job, second only to car crashes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Slips, trips and falls also make up the majority of industrial accidents and are responsible for 25 percent of reported injury claims each year, according to the BLS. In a single recent year, 699 workers died in these types of accidents, with 82 percent happening due to a fall to a lower level.
Workplace slips, trips and falls are responsible for more than 95 million missed work days, accounting for nearly 65 percent of all lost time.
Slippery or uneven surfaces are often to blame for these types of accidents, which occur when a loss of traction happens. Common conditions that can lead to slips, trips and falls in the workplace include:
- Greasy or wet floors.
- Polished or waxed floors.
- Loose or uneven flooring.
- Electric cords.
- Sloped surfaces or a transition from one level to another.
- Metal surfaces.
- Shoes with muddy, wet or greasy soles.
- Weather conditions, such as snow, ice and rain.
Some guidelines for how employers can create a safe work environment include:
- Follow good housekeeping practices. It’s important to establish cleaning procedures and follow a program to keep work spaces clean and well organized.
- Prevent floors from becoming slippery. Employers should keep both indoor and outdoor areas as safe as possible during any weather conditions, especially since conditions can change so quickly. For outdoor areas, remove ice or snow, use anti-skid paint and adhesive striping material where possible, and keep parking lots and sidewalks in good condition. Indoors, use absorbent mats at entrances, clean up spills as soon as possible, use anti-skid materials where appropriate and place “Wet Floor” signs wherever they are needed.
- Remove obstacles from aisles and walkways. This includes avoiding clutter and making sure all traffic areas and workspaces are free of obstacles and equipment.
- Install and maintain proper lighting. Properly illuminating work areas, walkways, stairways and other spaces can help prevent accidents. If a light fixture malfunctions, fix it as soon as possible.
- Require proper footwear. Require employees to wear appropriate footwear for the task at hand, paying special attention to the slickness of the soles and heels of the shoes.
- Foster a “safety first” mindset in employees. Encourage employees to avoid shortcuts, running and behavior that could result in them letting their guard down, leading to fall accidents and injuries.
If you have suffered a slip, trip or fall in the workplace in South Carolina, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. You are most likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and you may be able to recover additional compensation in a third-party lawsuit under certain circumstances.