It’s the time of year again when winter is knocking at the door, and when floors and walkways can quickly turn hazardous.
You do your best to keep surfaces clear of clutter, debris and moisture to help ensure that employees and customers have a pleasant and safe experience at your business. Still, someone can lose their footing, slip and fall, leading to serious injuries. And even if you live in a part of the country that doesn’t get the common risks from cold weather, it’s always a good time to reevaluate your workplace safety procedures and take action to prevent unnecessary injuries and claims.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that at least one third of the nation’s workforce is exposed to hazards that could cause slips, trips, or falls (via 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). There are plenty of ways to recognize what can lead to them at any workplace. Several main causes include:
- Wearing improper footwear;
- Weather hazards, such as rain, ice and snow;
- Uneven surfaces, wet or slippery areas, or loose flooring and mats;
- Uncovered hoses, cables or extension cords in walkways;
- Poor housekeeping, clutter or debris;
- Dim lighting;
- Unsafe use of ladders; and
- Improperly mounting and dismounting vehicles and equipment.
Consider your business. Are any of these items ones that you know pose a risk to your employees or clients? If you or an employee notices one or more of these hazards, make it a top priority to remedy the situation. Few things halt a successful business faster — or dig deeper into profits — than preventable injuries. Several important safe work practices can include, and are not limited to:
- Conducting a baseline slip, trip and fall evaluation at your workplace;
- Holding refresher training courses on safe work practices;
- Documenting problematic areas and keeping detailed records of accidents;
- Ensuring employees take their breaks on time to stay alert and refreshed;
- Having cleaning supplies on hand and cleaning spills immediately;
- Maintaining well-lit facilities;
- Following building codes;
- Hanging up warning signs as needed;
- Using correct tools and ladders for designated jobs;
- Keeping walkways, entrances and exits free of obstructions;
- Installing non-skid surfaces; and
- Encouraging employees to keep work areas clean.
Although it can be easy to remind others to stay safe in the workplace, don’t forget to apply those rules to yourself too. Remember — keeping an eye out for risks at all times is everyone’s responsibility. With a little planning and some simple steps, your actions can go a long way toward reducing the risk that a slip, trip, or fall will occur.