Missing a step can become very fatal depending on the impact on the body part especially during the rains where there are lots of wet surfaces. Over 60% of falls that results in accidents occur on the same level popularly termed slips and trips which result when an unintended or unexpected change occurs between the feet and the walking surface. These hazards are easy to correct if we to identify them around our homes and work site and strive to prevent them. Take care not to cause any slip, trip, or fall hazards as you go about your daily activities. Although a fewer number of accidents occur from a height or an elevation; they are usually fatal resulting in very serious injuries to body parts.
There are three basic hazards as follows:
- Slips: Slips occur when there is too little friction between a person's feet and the walking surface. Substances such as: oil, water, cleaning fluids, un-anchored rugs or mats, debris and other slippery substances cause slips.Weather hazards, walking surfaces without traction in all areas and occasional spills can also cause slips.
- Trips: Trips occur when a person's foot collides an object and they are thrown off balance and eventually fall. Objects left on the walkway, tools; object that projecting into the walkway, poor lighting and uneven walking surfaces are all capable of causing trips.
- Falls: Falls occur because of various factors; a slip, stumble, trip over an object or a sudden quick movement throwing the body off balance. Slips and trips frequently result in a fall if loss of balance occurs. Falls also occur for other reasons including improper use of ladders and scaffolding. Falls also happen when people climb elevated structures without using fall protection equipment. Do not risk serious injury by taking shortcuts. If you are working on a ladder, scaffold, or other elevated platform, make sure you know the requirements for using them safely. Always use fall protection equipment when it is required.
Causes of Slips, trips and falls
The following are some of the potential causes of slips,trips and falls:
Walking and Working Surfaces
Almost all construction sites have unprotected sides and edges, wall openings or floor holes at some point in time. These openings and sides must be secured, or falls may occur. These potential hazards may be avoided by:
• Covering or guarding floor holes as soon as they are created.
• Using a fall prevention (e.g. guard rails) or protection (fall arrest device) system if the employees are exposed to a fall of six feet or more.
• Surveying the work site prior to start of work, and continually throughout the day to identify and guard any openings or holes.
Many sites utilize scaffolding for the employees to gain access to the elevated parts of the building or structure. If the scaffolding is improperly constructed or has unsafe access, it becomes hazardous. Scaffolding hazards can be avoided by:
• Erecting all scaffolding according to manufacturer’s directions and inspection by a competent person prior to use.
• Providing safe access to the scaffolding platforms.
• Installing guardrails along all open sides and ends according to established OSHA criteria.
Portable ladders are another common method of accessing elevated parts of the building or structure. If ladders are not positioned safely and securely fastened, they may shift and cause one to fall. To avoid potential ladder hazards:
• Inspect the ladder before each use for cracked or broken parts. A broken ladder should be taken out of service and tagged.
• Do not place more weight on the ladder than what it was designed to hold.
• Secure the top of the ladder to a rigid support.
• The ladder should extend 3 feet above the landing you are accessing.
• Ensure the feet of the ladder are securely placed and will not slip out from under you.
• Ladders made on site must be able to safely hold the weight of the worker and his tools.
• While using a ladder, it is recommended you are accompanied by a fellow worker.
Preventing Slips, Trips and falls
Good housekeeping is the first and most important way of preventing falls due to slips and trips. Other ways to avoid creating slip and trip hazards are to:
- Wear work boots or shoes with slip resistant soles.
- Clean up any liquid spills right away.
- Watch your step and pay attention to where you are going.
- Ensure things you are carrying do not prevent you from seeing obstructions or spills
- Avoid walking in areas that pose slipping hazards
- Use abrasive or anti-slip strips on stairway, aisles or walkways
- Tape down or cover loose cables and electrical cords.
- Look out for elevation change while walking
- Keep objects that could cause someone to trip out of the way. Repair uneven flooring and install proper lighting if required.
- Keep aisle /walkways clear from clutter or obstructions
- Keep all floor surfaces in good condition
- Always use installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks
- Use a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light
We must continue to focus on preventing these types of incident because injury and death from falls at work is second only to traffic accidents, taking some 21,000 lives each year.
Watch your step; do not let a slip, trip, or fall keep you from enjoying all that life has to offer.
Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2