Creating working environments that enable workers to remain healthy, productive, and comfortable in their jobs.
Strains and Slips, Trips, and Falls are the two most frequent and costliest causes of workplace injuries.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention Best Practices
Slips, trips, and falls are the primary cause of lost days from work and are also the second leading cause of accidental death and disability after automobile accidents.
1. Assemble a slip, trip, and fall prevention team.
Members could include environmental services, safety officers, departmental supervisors and employee representatives from at risk areas. Meet quarterly at minimum.
2. Create, distribute, and enforce a footwear policy.
Inadequate footwear accounts for 24% and is the second leading cause of all slip and fall accidents. (National Floor Safety Institute).
3. Complete a hazard assessment in all areas twice per year at minimum.
Identify and remediate any potential hazards before injury incidents occur. Poor flooring and environmental issues cause 55% of slip and fall accidents (NFSI).
4. Review your unique history of slip, trip, and fall incidents; look for trends to remediate.
Implement needed changes in procedures, equipment or staff education based upon the hazard and trend assessments.
5. Complete an incident investigation immediately after any slip, trip, and fall occurrence or near miss.
Investigate thoroughly to determine the root cause. Repeating the hazard assessment at this time may also be beneficial.
6. Take pictures of the injury incident site, surrounding areas, conditions and footwear worn at the time of any injury incident.
If improper footwear (outside of your enforced footwear policy) was worn at the time of the incident, the Workers’ Compensation claim may be denied.
7. Evaluate housekpeeing procedures.
Use waxes which have non-slip characteristics. Review the coefficient of friction data sheets of floor cleaning products to ensure that slippery surfaces are not created.
8 Develop protocols for high-risk areas
Consider housekeeping, floor maintenance or spill response procedures.
9. Ensure appropriate training for employees.
Ensure compliance with safe work practices. Use disciplinary action when needed.
10. Designate staff responsible for the following ongoing prevention tasks.
- Daily walk-through inspections of at-risk areas to correct any potential hazards.
- Hang awareness posters in designated employee areas; rotate posters to keep information fresh and eyecatching.
- Be a first responder for spill clean-up.
- Provide regular supply of absorbent materials to staff for quick clean-up of smaller spills.
- Apply ice melt before and after precipitation.
- Shovel all staff and visitor walkways.
- Provide buckets of salt/sand mixture by employee exits.
- Provide umbrella bags at employee and visitor entrances on rainy days.
- Lay out appropriate length matting at all entrances per ANSI/ASSE standard A1264.2 (longer mats on wetter days).
- Train maintenance personnel to clean floors for safety as well as appearance.
- Follow up on all hazard assessment corrective measures to determine effectiveness.
- Post signs in areas where hazards cannot be corrected or removed.
11. Be involved in construction projects.
When installing new flooring consider slipperiness, possible exposure to spills, use, traffic, distracting patterns. Work with subcontractors to determine their slip/trip prevention plans when working in your facility.
12. Keep internal records for your protection.
Track maintenance procedures, products used, inspection reports and training programs. Document incidents, investigations and remediation steps. In the event of litigation, these can help to prove that you are doing everything possible to prevent occurrences.
Strain Injury Prevention Best Practices
Follow these best practices to develop an ergonomics program.
1. Review your OSHA 300 Log or Workers’ Compensation Loss Runs to identify strain injury trends.
This allows you to target your intervention to the areas needing the most help. Loss runs can be obtained from your agent or insurer.
2. Set measureable goals based on these findings.
Examples: Increase strain injury investigation by 70%. Complete strain surveys with all employees in a high injury rate department. Decrease strain injuries by 40% in the shipping department. Cut trash handling injuries in half.
3. Decide on a prevention program model.
- Consultant Only – An RAS ergonomics consultant performs all assessments and problem solving, but pulls in department staff as needed.
- Ergonomics Trainer – One employee performs basic ergonomics intervention with the RAS ergonomics consultant providing technical support and guidance. This works best when there are known solutions for common problems.
- Ergonomics Team – A group of employees performs basic ergonomics intervention with the RAS consultant providing technical support and guidance. Useful when common solutions to problems are unknown and require group brainstorming.
4. Pick the right trainer or team!
Select employees that are good communicators and have good people skills. In a team format, include representatives from each department or division. We strongly encourage including maintenance/engineering personnel.
5. Educate your trainer or team in ergonomics principles.
The RAS ergonomics consultant can provide this training to the team.
6. Decide on frequency of intervention, e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
If you have low turnover, few employees, and a stable product you can likely get by with less frequency. High turnover, many employees, and complex changing products usually require greater assessment frequency.
7. Perform ergonomics “rounds.”
Rarely do employees report problems in their early stages, waiting instead until discomfort is so bad that they need to seek medical attention. The simple direct communication process used during ergonomics rounds helps identify employees having unreported problems and allows preventative interventions to take place early.
8. Regularly include your RAS ergonomics consultant in this process.
If the RAS consultant isn’t present for all ergonomics rounds, most teams need some sort of regular follow-up by the consultant to keep the process going and to help with problem solving and decision making.
9. Alternatives to ergonomics rounds.
Some companies prefer a less formal process.
- Pass around a sign-up sheet for ergonomics reviews during regularly scheduled staff meetings.
- Send out regularly scheduled email blasts to office workers reminding them of the service.
- Have employees regularly fill out a strain report, e.g. every Friday before they leave work, the last Friday of the month, etc. to gather this information. The consultant and/or team members are then dispatched to review the employee’s complaints at the next available opportunity.
10. Use the right language.
Don’t ask people to tell you about their “pain” because some will take that as an open invitation to catastrophize. Pain also implies “bad injury” and starts people thinking of themselves in terms of their limitations. Instead, ask about feelings of strain or fatigue, these words have less of an emotional quality.
11. Take action quickly.
If you don’t make corrections in a timely fashion, you will quickly lose any buy-in and morale will drop.
12. Make solutions a part of future training.
If problem solving leads to a solution that would benefit everyone, such as a new work technique that protects a body part from injury, then add this training to new employee orientation and train all current employees on the procedure.
13. Audit the process.
Evaluate the progress made toward your measurable goals each year. Make changes to the program as needed