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Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Office

A large number of injuries caused by falls occur in offices. Walking becomes second nature, so people don’t pay attention when they are walking from one place to another.

According to the U. S. Department of Labor, slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry mishaps. This particular category of mishaps causes 15 percent of all accidental deaths and is second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.

Likewise in covered state agencies, slips, trips, and falls are among the most frequent type of reported injuries and have so far averaged approximately 25 percent of reported claims in any given fiscal year. Based on in depth investigations and detailed analysis of reported claims, many of them could have been prevented. In this presentation, we will discuss the circumstances surrounding these types of mishaps and recommend preventive practices to reduce or significantly mitigate the number and seriousness of injuries from slips, trips, and falls.

How is a slip different than a trip?

A slip occurs whenever there is too little friction between your feet and the surface you are walking on. The major causes of slips are constantly wet surfaces, occasional spills, or weather hazards. When walking on wet surfaces be sure to shorten your stride, walk with your feet pointed slightly outward, make wide turns at corners, and wear anti-slip shoes when possible. To help prevent falls, always clean up spills immediately or mark the wet areas so others can see the spill. This can reduce your risk of slipping. Other hazards to look out for are loose rugs, changing surfaces, and changing heights of walking surfaces.

Trips can occur when your foot strikes an object and your momentum causes you to be thrown off balance. The most common reasons for this is when your view is obstructed, you take short cuts, or there is clutter in or near the walkway. Walkways must be kept free of objects and clutter. Remember to close file drawers after each use. Don’t run extension cords across aisles without taping them down or using protected covers. Be aware of thresholds when your step out of the elevator. Never carry a load that obstructs you vision. Poor lighting can impair your vision and create dangerous situations. Make sure to keep stairwells well-lit and free of clutter. Use walkways with available light sources and change light bulbs that have burned out.

A cause of falls can be the improper use of ladders. In the office make sure you never use a chair or table as a step ladder to reach high places. And when using a ladder, follow all safety tips. When using the stairs, always take one step at a time and make sure your foot is firmly planted before shifting your weight. Always use the handrails, and never jump from one level to the next.