Slips and Trips and Falls, Oh My!

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slips trips and falls illustration

In a building, in a parking lot, on a sidewalk, and over a threshold, businesses face exposures to slip, trips and falls every day. The person who falls, the injuries sustained and the way that individual is treated can have ramifications on the outcomes of that accident. There are some measures that businesses can take to ensure a safer environment, in turn reducing the risk from an accident.

The most common causes for slips and falls are wet or slippery surfaces or uneven thresholds or walking surfaces. Evaluating areas of the premises is important to identifying and correcting potential hazards, and working to reduce exposure to risks. While concern around visitors is valid for general liability considerations, the impact to an employer’s workers’ compensation should also be evaluated. Excessive claims in either policy can have an impact on rates, while the workers’ compensation policy could be impacted for several years by a series of claims through the experience modification factor.

The following are some best-practices for evaluating exposures:

  1. Highlight with paint or tape changes in curb elevations to bring awareness to the change.
  2. Parking lots should be clear of holes, regularly inspected and marked if a hole is present before being repaired (can be marked with a warning cone or paint).
  3. Steps should be in good condition, and a handrail should be installed for multiple steps. If exposed to weather, non-slip adhesive or tape should be utilized.
  4. Ensure exterior lighting is properly functioning and adequately illuminating the intended area.
  5. Aisles and hallways should be free from obstructions, and entry ways should flow easily in both directions.
  6. Drainage, both from a roof or from a higher area, should be directed to avoid slip or trip hazards, and in cold climate areas should be monitored for icing.
  7. Entrances should have mats or rugs which absorb debris and water, and stay against the ground to avoid a tripping hazard.

caution illustration

These areas should be inspected as part of a regular inspection check-list, which also incorporates a system for fast corrections to identified problem areas. All facilities should have signage to warn of wet or slippery areas in cases of spills, and “clean-up kits” should include oil-absorbing material for any spills, de-icing materials in the winters, and water clean-up. These kits should be placed in common areas within the facilities, and accessible by a few identified individuals so matters can be quickly and efficiently addressed.

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