10 Ways to Reduce Slips, Trips, and Falls in Your Business

Slips, trips and falls are the leading cause of general workplace accidents and injuries ranging from minor bruises to severe traumas such as head injuries, broken bones, sprains and lacerations. In fact, slips, trips and falls are often reported as the most common causes of workers' compensation claims.

To reduce the potential hazards that lead to slips, trips and falls, there are ways you can proactively manage your workplace environment to help lower the risk of injury to your employees and customers.

Here are ten ways you can prevent slips, trips and falls around the workplace:

1. Keep walking surfaces clean and free of clutter
By keeping walkways clear, you can quickly reduce the potential for injury. An unobstructed path minimizes the opportunity for an employee to trip over an unexpected object and reduces the potential for a spill that could create a dangerous slipping hazard.

2. Lighting
Proper lighting inside and outside of the workplace can help illuminate areas that may be common places for employees or customers to trip or fall. More often than not, steps or other hazards can be hidden by darkness or shadows. By installing proper lighting (such as spotlights or illuminated steps), you can reduce the chance that an individual will slip or fall.

3. Signage
Using clear, well-placed signage can help call attention to potential problem areas. A sign indicating a step, gap, uneven ground or loose rocks will call attention to the hazard and increase awareness and attentiveness. Using reflective tape can also highlight problem areas.

4. Stairways/Handrails
Do your stairways have handrails? Is the top and bottom stair marked with reflective tape? Have you removed any unsecured rugs or carpets from the stairs or landings? Stairs are a common area for falls in the workplace and additional care is often required to reduce the risk of injury. Be sure to keep your stairwells clear, well lit and free from unsecured objects.

5. Footwear
Are your employees wearing footwear that is appropriate for the specific work conditions that they're working in? Shoes with proper traction should be required when possible.

6. Step stools
Providing ladders and accessible step stools can help reduce the chances of a fall by helping employees reach heights safely. By ensuring supportive options are present, there is less of a chance that an employee (or customer) will decide to rely on unstable chairs, desks or tables. 

7. Manage cords
Power, internet and phone cords can often create a sea of obstacles for employees and customers. Try to run cables behind walls or under carpets to keep them hidden. Install power outlets, internet connections and phone jacks in easily-accessible locations to avoid running cables across walkways.

8. Check floor condition, inside and out
Make sure there are no cracks or holes in building flooring or in the pavement outside. Repair any problem areas immediately and be sure to place warning signs in/on/around areas that need to be fixed.

9. Non-skid throw rugs on slippery surfaces
Do you have tiled or hard wood floors in splash-prone areas (e.g. bathrooms)? Adding non-skid throw rugs can help reduce accident potential. Rugs are an easy solution on otherwise slippery surfaces, but just make sure to add non-skid padding underneath the rug to prevent it from slipping out from underneath someone.

10. Clean up spills immediately
If you have a spill, clean it up immediately. If allowed to penetrate the floor surface, some substances can actually create a more slippery surface even after cleanup. When a spill occurs, immediately place warning signs around the hazard and then tackle the cleanup process.

While slips, trips and falls can often be attributed to carelessness or clumsiness, the good news is that most accidents are preventable. It is critical to frequently survey your work environment to avoid potential issues. Remember, proactive attention to hazards will ultimately help keep your employees and customers safe and out of harms way.