On average, slips, trips and falls cause nearly 700 fatalities per year. Furthermore, twenty percent of the 30,000 forklift accidents that occur each year involve a pedestrian being struck by the vehicle.
The first day of fall is a great reminder that preventing pedestrian accidents in the workplace has long been challenging but not impossible. Working alongside a wide range of material handling equipment, traveling across ill-prepared work surfaces and dealing with elements like weather, congestion and poor illumination is, in many cases, part of work for many. Add a distraction such as a cell phone and we have a perfect storm of substandard conditions met by an increase of undesired behaviors.
Both slips and trips result from an unintended or unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground. Slipping occurs when the friction between the foot or shoe sole and the floor surface provides insufficient resistance to counteract the forward or rearward forces that occur during the stepping process.
Fall prevention strategies should be comprehensive and multifaceted but should also begin with a complete understanding of the variable risk factors that create an opportunity for loss potential. Given that there have been changes to OSHA’s walking-working surfaces standard, it’s prudent to consider risk assessment as a starting point to understand the robustness of your program and if you should be doing more.
In his article Walking-Working Surfaces and Pedestrian Safety, Scott Gaddis, Vice President and Global Practice Leader—Safety and Health at Intelex Technologies Inc., offers an analysis of OSHA's walking-working surfaces standard and offers valuable information about slips, trips and falls, including:
- Identifying risks to the worker associated with work activity.
- Identifying hazards found in the work environment that pose a threat of loss.
- Providing details of identified risks or hazards and providing context to build understanding.
- Utilizing a measurement system to evaluate risk understanding and decide precautions.
- Building controls that protect people and the work environment.
Everyone downloading the article will be sent a comprehensive checklist for evaluating fall and trip hazards in the workplace.
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