Slips, Trips and Falls (STFs)

Slips, trips and falls (STFs) are a major cause of preventable injuries and deaths in the workplace. According to the US Department of Labor, STFs make up the majority of general industrial accidents and 15% of all accidental deaths (second only to motor vehicle deaths). They are one of the most frequently reported injuries (25% of claims per year). Over 17% of all disabling occupational injuries result from falls. Most could have been prevented.

Slips, trips and falls happen everywhere – manufacturing facilities, retail stores, retirement communities, government offices, schools, corporate offices and at home. Sadly, the cost to employers and workers can be substantial.

Cost to the employer could be:

  • Loss of productivity & business
  • Increased industrial insurance premiums
  • Costs associated with training replacement workers

Costs to the worker could be:

  • Lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain
  • Temporary or permanent disability
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Depression
  • Death

Typical STF injuries are sprains & strains, bruises & contusions, fractures and abrasions & lacerations. Some of the leading hazards are:

Common Causes of Slips

  • Wet products or spills that aren’t cleaned up
  • Highly polished floors
  • Freshly-waxed surfaces
  • Sloped walking surfaces
  • Leaves, pine needles and other plant debris
  • Weather hazards

Common Causes of Trips

  • Extension cords, cables or wires across aisles or walkways
  • Clutter or obstacles in aisles or walkways
  • Open desk, cabinet or file drawers
  • Changes in elevation
  • Carpets/mats with curled edges
  • Missing or uneven floor tiles
  • Damaged or non-uniform steps

STFs are Preventable

The following are a few steps you can take to reduce STF hazards. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive.

  • Design workplace & processes to prevent potential exposures to slip and trip hazards
  • Conduct a daily safety survey to look for common culprits such as wet or greasy floors, loose mats, torn carpeting, bad lighting, clutter, cables or wires, and uneven floors.
  • Immediately attend to any problems by putting up warning signs and taking steps to quickly eliminate the hazard.
  • Train your employees in slip and fall safety including establishing guidelines on how employees should report problems and respond to customer injuries or hazardous situation.
  • Take care of your outdoor areas, including sidewalks and parking lots. Snow and ice create potential problems.*
  • Practice good housekeeping – maintain clean, tidy work areas free of clutter
  • Use safe walking practices
  • Wear proper footwear with good traction
  • Learn to fall “properly”

*A special note on addressing weather conditions in outdoor areas.

Winter can bring a host of potential hazards and increase the changes of STFs. According to MDOL and the industry’s leading insurance companies, the average ice-related slip-and-fall claim is $33,000; and if that claim is a worker’s compensation claim, that number increases to $48,000. It’s best to be proactive to keep your employees, residents and customers safe.

  • Don’t wait until the storm has started to apply ice melting products. Select the appropriate ice melt based on your facility’s needs and outdoor temperature. Practice pre-treating.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking snow management automatically means safe premises. Just because the snow is plowed and shoveled doesn’t guarantee that the walking and driving surfaces are safe.
  • More isn’t always better in the application of ice melt. Follow product instructions for optimum results.
  • Don’t assume the presence of rock salt means a surface is slip free. It takes time to work.