It happens to the most cautious and wary of us, and yet, its consequences could be as light as a small bruise or as devastating as a death. Slips, trips, and falls are more than just a gag in old-fashioned slapstick comedies—they are a common reoccurrence in the American workplace.
According to the CDC, over a million people every year suffer some form of injury after a reported slip, trip, or fall in the workplace, while over 17,000 individuals have passed away due to falls alone.
While the amount of workplace fall hazards and causes differ industry to industry, even those who work in administrative roles are not impervious to the risks. Below we go over the five most common causes that lead to slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. If you’re interested in exploring OSHA, General Safety and other online fall protection certification courses, we encourage you to check out our catalog.
Workplace Fall Hazards and Common Causes of Falls in the Workplace
1. Improper Maintenance and Upkeep
It might seem baffling, but poor housekeeping is a leading cause of slipping, tripping, or making people fall. Who doesn’t have memories of taking out something and leaving it out on the floor, only to stub your toe against it, trip over it, or stumble over it a few minutes or hours later? This type of cause may seem the most preventable, but like the LEGO toys your kid might have left out at home, they could easily blindside you.
2. Poor Lighting
Even if it’s an environment quite familiar to our everyday lives, poor lighting could still flip our judgment of our surroundings, resulting in missing a step or bumping into something on accident. While part of our daily navigation around familiar environments revolves around our other four senses as well as muscle memory, poor lighting can still upset our perception of what we know so well.
3. Lack of Floor Management
We’re not just talking slippery bathroom floors here—floors with uneven surfaces or unsuitable coverings can easily catch the toe of your shoe or make you lose your footing. While it’s important to get a professional to clean up more serious liquid spills such as oil, carefully checking recently cleaned floors or watching your step are easy deterrents to this all-too-common cause.
4. Weather Conditions
Weather conditions such as rain or snow can make the ground slippery and thus induce conditions more likely for a fall, while more extreme conditions such as wind or hail can even strike you down. Especially if your work requires you to labor outdoors or to go out frequently, being adequately prepared and wearing the right gear for the weather is a must.
5. Equipment Malfunction
Particularly for those who work in industries such as construction and forestry in which there is a higher rate of workplace fall hazards, equipment malfunction and lack of maintenance have been discovered as leading causes of injuries. Given the fact that the majority of reported injuries and deaths from falls are in construction, the implementation of not only a hazard assessment but also safety equipment is vital to creating a safer and more secure workplace.
Workplace Hazards are a Major Concern
Regardless if you work in a job with more occupation hazards—such as construction—or if you are a worker at a desk job, slips, trips, and falls can happen to anyone, anywhere. Being self-aware of your surroundings but also looking out for the five causes we point out will provide these two benefits: a workplace less likely to injure its workers as well as a safe environment where workers can focus on their job priorities rather than whether or not the uneven tiling of a washroom will make them slip.
A small amount of effort put into reducing workplace hazards can go a long way towards creating a better working space!