On the Safe Side… Slip Slidin’ Away
By Chris Hipkiss
“Slip Slidin’ Away” is a title to a Simon and Garfunkel song written back in 1975, that, except for the title, has nothing to do with this article. What I wish to discuss is Slips, Trips and Falls; according to OSHA these accidents rank second only to automobile accidents in causing personal injury. Statistics further show that 60 percent of all falls are caused by slips or trips, with the other 40 percent being falls from a height. This article will focus on those “falls on the same level” (slips and trips).
The technical reason for a slip is that the friction or traction between the footwear and the walking surface is insufficient. Some common causes of slips are wet or oily surfaces, polymer spills, weather hazards such as ice, and loose or unanchored floor mats.
Trips are caused when your foot hits an object, causing you to lose your balance. Some common causes of tripping are obstructed views (can’t see where you are going), poor lighting, a cluttered pathway, exposed cables in the walkway, and uneven walking surfaces.
The cause of both slips and trips is the unintended or unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the walking surface, and one of the best means to remedy the problem is good housekeeping. Good housekeeping includes but is not limited to: cleaning up all spills immediately; mopping or sweeping debris from floors and removing clutter from walkways; securing mats to the floor if they do not lie flat; and covering cables that cross walkways.
Spreading sand on walkways during winter, even though you know you will have to clean it up in the spring, is better than a slip and a fall. Carrying boxes down stairs with an obstructed view of the stairs can lead to a serious fall. OSHA claims that on stairways alone, falls result in almost two million disabling injuries a year.
When you walk through your work area, look for things that can cause slips or trips and correct them if possible, or notify a supervisor that an unsafe condition exists. Ignoring an unsafe situation such a wet surface where you slipped but maintained your balance is only adding to the chance that the next employee might slip and fall, sustaining a serious injury. Remember that safety in the work place is no accident.
Do you have a near miss (or a good song) to share? Contact us at newea.org
On the Safe Side is provided by the NEWEA Safety Committee to help increase safety awareness in everyday activities. Thank you to Chris Hipkiss of NHWPCA Safety Committee and Winnipesaukee River Basin Program WWTF in Franklin, NH for sharing this article with us.