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Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace

Workplace Safety

In this post, Roxanne Mathews, our Physiotherapist and Certified Athletic Trainer, shares her insights about slip, trips, and falls in the workplace.

A number of my patients who require rehabilitative physiotherapy come to me after sustaining an injury from a common work-related accident: slipping, tripping, and falling in the workplace.

In fact, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), over 42,000 workers in Canada get injured due to fall accidents at work each year. Statistics from the same source state that 66% of falls in the workplace are caused by slips and trips on an even surface, while 34% of falls occur from a height.

While these types of injuries are inevitable to an extent, there are some safety practices that can be followed to prevent such high numbers.

In order to understand prevention methods, it is first necessary to understand the common causes of slips, trips, and falls.

Common Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls

  • Water and other liquid spills
  • Weather hazards such as ice and snow
  • Mats and rugs which are not properly adhered to the floor
  • Door mats which are not lying flat
  • Stray cables and cords under desks (and anywhere)
  • Improper footwear
  • Clutter
  • Poor lighting/obstructed view
  • Uneven surfaces such as steps and curbs
  • Furniture which has not been returned to its proper location (e.g. chairs in staff kitchen)
  • Climbing on inappropriate objects such as chairs and boxes to reach something
  • Not having appropriate spotters while climbing and descending ladders

Understanding the causes of slip, trip, and fall injuries allows you to be more proactive in preventing them. 

Tips for Preventing Workplace Slips, Trips, and Falls

  • Clean up water and other liquid spills as soon as they are noticed. If specialized procedures and/or personnel are necessary to dispose of a spill, then report the hazard to a supervisor for immediate attention.  If a yellow or orange caution sign or pylon is available, place it in the hazardous area for others to be aware of.
  • Assure regular maintenance of work parking lots at all times, including snow and ice removal. Many weather-related injuries tend to occur at the beginning, or very end, of the workday.
  • Use anti-slip floor coverings wherever appropriate, especially in doorways and hallways.
  • If you ever notice a mat or rug is curled or “crunched up,” take the time to flatten it out.
  • Secure cables/cords behind a desk with good adhering tape, as opposed to under a desk.
  • Wear proper footwear. This may include steel toed shoes or running shoes (as suggested by your specific workplace). In some cases, it may be beneficial to change footwear upon arriving at work, especially when dealing with snowy and/or muddy weather conditions.
  • Do not permit clutter. Everything has a place.
  • Assure sufficient lighting for your work responsibilities. If there is a power outage, this may mean that some work activities and work areas should be “off limits” for employees.  If you are required to enter a dark area, use a flashlight or appropriate lighted headgear.
  • Use a slow and cautious pace should you need to push an item in front of you which may obstruct your view (e.g. a meal cart in hospitals). Make wide turns around corners, not sharp ones.
  • Return furniture and other items that you use to their proper location.
  • Attempt not to store any items any higher than what the shortest worker at your workplace can comfortably reach. If high storage is necessary, supply safe, secure step ladders conveniently located to where they may be required. Always encourage the use of a spotter.

By following the above suggestions wherever possible, workplace slips, trips, and falls can be minimized. However, it must be recognized that although prevention helps, workplace safety is never “perfect.”

Should you be involved in a workplace injury, report it to the appropriate supervisor as soon as possible.  If your workplace is covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), you may be entitled to rehabilitative healthcare benefits. We have provided steps on our website (click here to view) to help guide you through the process of receiving rehabilitative care through WSIB.

>> If you require treatment for any injury, please contact us at BodyMend to discuss your options and begin your rehabilitation.

Image Courtesy of: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

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