We have all experienced slipping, tripping, stumbling or falling. Usually, the only result is that you feel silly, embarrassed, and perhaps got a scrape or bruise. But falls kill 1,200 people at work a year. They are the biggest cause of accidental death in the workplace. More than 33,000 people are disabled every year from falling down stairs, while many more people receive other injuries like strains, sprains, and fractures.
There are three physical factors involved in slips, trips, and falls: Friction, Momentum and Gravity. They each play a role.
Friction is the resistance between objects. Oil or mud on the floor reduces friction.
Momentum is your speed and size getting out of control – your body getting away and falling forward, backward or sideways at an ever–increasing speed.
Gravity is the never-ending force that pulls you toward the ground in a fall.
Lose friction and you slip or fall. Gain too much momentum and you slip or fall. Let’s look at how we avoid these accidents.
Slips – can be caused by wet surfaces, spills, or weather hazards like ice/snow/mud. Slips are more likely to occur when you hurry, run or don’t pay attention to where you are walking. Here’s how to prevent slips:
Practice safe walking skills. Take short, controlled strides, keeping your center of balance under your hips and shoulders.
Clean up all material spills right away and report them to the appropriate person
Do not let grease, oil or finishing mud accumulate at your jobsite.
Be extra cautious on smooth surfaces such as new floors – green concrete - or floors that have been cleaned or waxed – fresh terrazzo floors.
Trips – are more likely to happen when you are in a hurry and don’t pay attention to where you are going. Remember these rules to avoid tripping:
Make sure you can see where you are going. Carry only loads that you can see over.
Keep work areas well lit. Use an extension light to make your walkway more visible.
Keep your jobsite clean. Assign storage areas for tools and materials.
Ensure extension cords on power tools are not dangerous trip hazards, route along wall.
Eliminate hazards due to loose footing on stairs, steps and floors.
Arrange equipment so that it does not interfere with walkways or pedestrian traffic.
Store scaffold planks and ramps properly
Falls – occur whenever you move too far off your center of balance. To avoid falls consider the following:
Don’t jump or rush: controlled motion prevents falls
Check lighting so you can see your way
Repair or replace stairs rails and guardrails that are loose or broken
Don’t lean over guardrails
Keep passageways and aisles clear of clutter
Use caution on new floors – green concrete
Use caution on wet floors and muddy floors
Remember: Being in control of your motion is your best defense against slips, trips and falls.
Most of these accidents can be prevented if you look where you are going, know what hazards to look for, and try to maintain good housekeeping in your work area.
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