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A worker falling and getting hurt

Top Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries at Work

Second only to automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents account for approximately 15 percent of all fatalities in the US. In 2016, nearly 48,060 workers were injured, while 697 workers died in slip and fall- related accidents. Such accidents can range from minor to severe injuries.

Some common types of injuries that workers can incur in a slip and fall accident are:

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Traumatic brain and head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord damage

As slip and fall accidents and injuries are quite common in workplaces, let us take a look at some of the top causes that can put employees and visitors at risk.

Top Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip and fall injuries can occur due to different reasons. These include the following:

Uneven Surfaces

If floors, sidewalks, parking lots and walkways are not well-built or maintained, they can change over time due to heavy traffic flow. For example, wooden surfaces can bend and develop loose boards while concrete can develop potholes and cracks. Likewise, carpets can fray and tiles and floor coatings can wear down and get chipped. These issues can create uneven surfaces, thereby contributing to slips and falls. Thus, good housekeeping is essential and regular checks should also be made in order to ensure that all the walking surfaces in and around the workplace are safe for everyone.

Wet Contaminants

Slip and fall accidents may occur due to excessively wet and slippery floors, such as after waxing a linoleum floor. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to keep walking surfaces clean and dry but at the same time, it also acknowledges that it is not always practical or possible. Nonetheless, it is the employer’s responsibility to take effective safety measures to minimize the risk of slip and falls due to wet contaminants on the floor, such as:

  • Use texturized floor finishes, absorbent mats and raised grates if your workplace involves wet processes,
  • Place wet floor warning signs when the floor is mopped or waxed.

Bad Weather Conditions

Bad weather conditions are also among the top causes of slips and fall injuries. Snow, rain, ice, fog, and hail can lead to slippery outdoor surfaces and even limit visibility. Although you can’t control the weather, you can take safety measures to prevent the risk of injuries and avoid dangers.

It is the responsibility of both business owners and municipalities to plow the streets, walkways, and shovel sidewalks. If not observed, you shall be held liable to compensate the injured party.

Improper Footwear

Did you know that 24 percent of all the accidents related to slips and falls are caused because of improper footwear? That’s right, failing to wear appropriate footwear that don’t offer the right amount of traction needed to walk around the workplace with stability can put workers at risk of injuries.

Oversized and worn out shoes can also increase the risk of slips and falls. This is because oversized shoes allow the foot to slide and lose contact inside the shoe, which further increases the risk of the heels to hit the edge of a stair tread and lower the ability to regain control, especially if the shoe slides on a slippery or slick surface.

Therefore, employers must advise workers to wear appropriate shoes needed to stay safe in their unique workplace setting and according to the weather conditions. For example:

  • Flat soled shoes are best if the nature of work involves a lot of movement, such as working indoors and outdoors frequently. This is because shoes with a 2”inch raised heel can reduce contact with the floor by 40 percent.
  • Boots with hard rubber soles and shoes like cleats are ideal for snowy conditions.
  • Slip-resistant shoes are the right choice in work conditions that involve wet processes. These shoes feature a multi-directional tread pattern that minimizes hydroplaning and the soft rubber sole provides good grip on both wet and oily surfaces.   

Lack of Training

Workers in the construction and manufacturing industries are mostly at risk of slip and fall injuries because of the nature of their work. These workers are often required to spend a lot of their time walking and working on slick surfaces and narrow pathways.

To perform their workplace duties, quality training and access to proper gear is much needed. However, if workplace safety protocols are not measured injuries are inevitable and employers should compensate for them.  

Poor Lighting

Well-lit workplaces are mandated by OSHA. Thus, business owners must make sure that all staircases, sidewalks and walkways around their workplace premises are properly lit. Poor lighting can make it difficult for clients and employees to navigate their way in and out safely.

Exposed Obstructions

Exposed obstructions refer to open cables and wires and unorganized pallets and boxes. These obstructions can cause slips and falls, which  must be removed from the way or covered properly.

Depending on the severity and type of injuries caused, your employee may require at least 11 days away from work and sometimes even more. This can further lead to productivity loss and you may also compensate them by paying for their ongoing medical expenses until they recover. Since prevention is always better than cure, reach out to our team today.

Contact us today for Injury Prevention Programs

Specializing in injury prevention programs, we can assess the potential hazards at your workplace and provide you with quality suggestions on how to make it safe for everyone. At GSC On-Site Services, we strive to make work environments safe and hazard free.  We have helped numerous employers ensure workplace safety and limit their liability, we can help you too. Give us a chance to serve you. Contact us today.