We’ve discussed before about being distracted at work and paying attention to the task at hand, but recently injuries are up for another reason. This time, being distracted while walking on the job. We as a society are more distracted today then we have ever been thanks to technology, issues in our personal lives, and day to day routines that we sometimes go in “auto-pilot” while performing. The split second lapse of concentrating on where we are walking results in a slip, trip or fall. It can lead to a number of injuries from a simple bruised shin or scraped hands to an serious injury. Many people never think about “Walking is Working”, but the easy way to not get hurt on something so simple, is just to pay attention. Yes, it’s that simple.
There are a variety of situations that may cause you and your employee to encounter a slip, trip or fall. Here are the most common factors that can cause an injury:
• Wet or greasy floors—including polished or freshly waxed floors
• Uneven walking surfaces
• Loose flooring, carpeting or mats
• Transition from one floor type to another
• Damaged or irregular steps; no handrails
• Sloped walking surfaces
• Electrical cords or cables
• Open desk or file cabinet drawers
• Weather hazards – rain, sleet, ice, snow, hail, frost
Here are some guidelines to help you create a safer working environment for you and your employees.
Create and Maintain Good Housekeeping Practices
Good housekeeping is a critical component of a good safety program. If your facility’s housekeeping is poor, you may see an increase of employee injuries, increasing insurance costs and regulatory citations. If your facilities or jobsites are clean and organized, it’s a good sign that your safety program is working. Good housekeeping is an ongoing part of each worker’s daily functions. To create an effective housekeeping program, try starting with these:
• Plan ahead– Know what needs to be done, who’s going to do it.
• Assign responsibilities– It may be necessary to assign a specific person or group of workers to clean up.
Traction on outdoor surfaces can change considerably when weather conditions change. Those conditions can then affect indoor surfaces as moisture is tracked in by pedestrian traffic.
• Keep parking lots and sidewalks clean and in good repair condition.
• Use adhesive striping material or anti-skid paint when possible.
Indoor control measures can help reduce the incidence of slips and falls.
• Use moisture-absorbent mats with beveled edges in entrance areas. Make sure they have backing material that will not slide on the floor.
• Display “Wet Floor” signs as needed.
• Use anti-skid adhesive tape in troublesome areas.
· Clean up spills immediately.
Avoid Creating Obstacles in Aisles and Walkways – Injuries can also result in from trips caused by obstacles, clutter, materials and equipment in aisles, corridors, entranceways and stairwells.
• Keep all work areas, passageways, storerooms and service areas clean and orderly.
• Avoid stringing cords, cables or air hoses across hallways or in any designated aisle.
• In office areas, avoid leaving boxes, files or briefcases, or purses in the aisles.
• Promote practices such as closing file cabinet drawers after use and picking up loose items from the floor.
• Conduct weekly or daily inspections for slip and trip hazards.
Create and Maintain Proper Lighting – Poor lighting in the workplace is associated with an increase in accidents.
• Illuminate walkways, staircases, ramps, hallways, basements, construction and dock areas.
• Keep work areas well lit and clean.
• Keep poorly lit walkways clear of clutter and obstructions.
• Keep areas around light switches clear and accessible.
• Repair fixtures, switches and cords immediately if they malfunction.
Wear Proper Shoes – The shoes we wear can play a big part in preventing falls. The slickness of the soles and the type of heels worn need to be evaluated to avoid slips, trips and falls. Employees must wear footwear appropriate for the duties of their work task.
Control Individual Behavior – This condition is the toughest to control. It is human nature to let our guard down for two seconds and be distracted by random thoughts or doing multiple activities. Being in a hurry will result in walking too fast or running which increases the chances of a slip, trip or fall. Taking shortcuts, not watching where one is going, using a cell phone, carrying materials which obstructs the vision, wearing sunglasses in low-light areas, not using designated walkways and speed are common elements in many on-the-job injuries. It’s ultimately up to each individual to plan, stay alert and pay attention.
If you have any questions any information found in this posting, please contact the LL Roberts Group or our Safety Division, Roberts Risk Management (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!