Slips, trips and falls happen in the workplace and although they can cause serious injuries, they
are often not as high on the priority list as they should be when it comes to accident prevention
and on-the-job health and safety education.
According to WSIB statistics, slips, trips and falls caused almost 20 per cent of all injuries in
Ontario in 2003.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, in Canada, approximately 60,000
workers are injured each year due to slip and fall accidents. This number represents about 15 per cent of the
lost-time injuries that were accepted by workers compensation boards or commissions across the country.
"In the service sector that number is even higher," comments Sandro Perruzza, Manager,
Ontario Service Safety Alliance. "Whether it is in a kitchen, retail outlet, vehicle repair shop or
tourism workplace, slip and fall hazards are a serious risk factor that employers need to be aware of
and they must begin developing controls to reduce injuries caused by these hazards. With the average
slip, trip or fall costing the employer $2,000 in direct WSIB costs and a total of $22,000 in total
direct and indirect costs, they can be a costly hazard to ignore."
There are many factors that contribute to these statistics. Improper flooring, equipment and footwear,
lack of information and understanding of the risk, and apathy all play a big role in the high incidence
of slips, trips and falls.
"Most falls are a result of a slip or a trip and are classified as falls from the same level," says
Perruzza. Common causes include slippery floors due to spilled liquids, litter on the floor, improper
footwear, obstructions on floors or stairs, and loose or frayed carpet. One of the first things that
employers should do to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace is to increase
awareness of these hazards.
"Awareness is not just putting up signs and posters," says Perruzza. "Awareness involves the manager
or supervisor speaking to the workers and telling them about the hazards in that specific workplace.
They should provide verbal and written instructions for safe procedures and controls in the workplace
and those procedures should be enforced. The manager or supervisor should observe workers and follow up
with them to ensure that proper procedures are followed and unsafe practices are corrected immediately.
Some training may be required, especially for hazardous equipment, such as ladders. The training should
include topics such as equipment inspection, set up, use, storage and preventative maintenance. All
training should be documented and employees should be required to demonstrate competency afterward."
With a better understanding of the risk and knowledge of safe procedures to prevent accidents, employees
can take the necessary steps to protect themselves, their co-workers and customers from injury. Even the
simplest procedures can make a tremendous difference. For example, it is common for employees to mop the
floor and leave the sign "careful wet floors" up for an extended length of time. People get used to the
sign, especially if it is up all day and tend to ignore the message. And, if the floor is mopped up with
cold dirty water instead of clean hot water the risk of slips and falls can increase. It is also important
to have the proper policies in place and to enforce them. This conveys the importance of paying attention to
potential hazards and taking action to correct them. Employees will be more apt to report things such as
cracked tiles, frayed carpets, loose flooring, dimly lit stairways, and loose or missing handrails - things
that might otherwise be ignored.
In addition to education and awareness it is important to proactively invest in the proper floor coating, treatment anti slip tape or floor care products to keep employees, visitors and customers safe. The key is to address potential loss caused by unsafe walking surfaces before the fact and minimise or elliminate the loss due to workers being away from work caused by slip injury, potential litigation due to unsafe floors and general loss of productivity.
Anti-slip products come in many different forms, depending upon the products application. Click here to see a full list of our products.
Traditional methods of preventing slips and falls, such as mopping up spills right away, can be helpful but are
reactive rather than proactive. The key is to ensure that the floor meets minimum C.O.F. (coefficient of friction) standards when wet and dry. This is acheived with the right choice of anti-slip treatment, tape, coating, finish
or maintenance product.