Work sites can easily result in industry accidents, as evidenced by OSHA data on the Department of Labor website. It is indicated that 15 percent of all accidental deaths are caused by slips, trips, and falls in general industries. In fact, the data reveals that these types of accidents only lag behind motor vehicles as a result of fatalities.
What Are Slips, Trips, And Falls On Work Sites?
Slips, trips, and falls can occur for a myriad of reasons on work sites and typically occur because the traction between the walking surface and shoe is lost. Alternatively, protruding objects left in lowly lit areas can also contribute to slips, trips and falls on work sites. Some of the triggers of work site falls are:
- Greasy or wet floors during working hours.
- Lack of proper safety boots on job sites.
- Powder or dust from industry equipment causing slipperiness.
- Uneven or loose tiles on walking surface.
- Waxed floors.
- Poor lighting in transition areas from one floor type to the next.
- No handrails.
- Damaged staircases between floors.
- Wet or oily soles of shoes.
- Electrical cables and cords protruding into workspace walkways.
- Heavy equipment placed in the way of workers.
- Open cabinet drawers and desks.
- Damaged ramps and lack of skid-resistant floor materials.
- Ice, sleet, frost, hail or snow in parking lots or entrances to work sites.
Workers can trip, slip and fall for any of these reasons, which is why it is important for employers to undertake careful fall prevention measures to ensure workplace safety at all times — not just to keep employees safe but also to avoid any expensive lawsuits in the future.
Fall Prevention Challenges Faced By Employers
A recent incident in New York saw one MTA worker die and another hospitalized in serious condition after a train pinned them both down in Brooklyn. This is just one incident amongst several where workers are put at risks, which are most often preventable. Work site hazards like slips, trips and falls occur more frequently than necessary because of certain challenges faced by employers. Many employers make several efforts to control risks but are taken aback by sudden fatalities or hazards on work sites for a myriad of reasons. Some of them are:
- Uncertainty about the level of risk presented by a particularly hazardous situation.
- Overlooking of greater risks that may occur as a result of an unsafe workplace situation.
- Ambiguity about the specific risk at hand related to a particular area in the workplace.
- Lack of communication between different layers of the organization, resulting in misplaced messages.
- Inability to comprehend the specific risk situation without a suitable risk audit undertaken.
- Insufficient budgets to accommodate work site safety procedures necessary to prevent risks.
- Inability to handle the environment or location where the work is being undertaken.
While risks pose the potential to close down large companies, employers often fail to pay attention to the challenges that may occur at job sites when it comes to fall and hazard prevention. However, employers can undertake certain measures to ensure that floors and overhead platforms are safe for workers in job sites. OSHA guidelines stipulate that fall protection must be provided for workers handling machinery and equipment.
Evaluating Hazards At The Workplace: The Need To Stay Afloat
Employers should ideally evaluate the level of hazards present on work sites before undertaking any prevention efforts to ensure that they employ comprehensive solutions for the benefit of onsite workers. Follow these steps to evaluate hazards on work sites more effectively:
Find out all situations at the work site that could possibly harm your employees, such as:
- Physical conditions at the workplace.
- The number of hours exceeding normal, resulting in worker exhaustion.
- Materials, equipment, and substances used on work sites.
- Safety risks when performing job tasks.
- Management of employee grievances regarding hazardous conditions.
For success, employers will need to inspect the workplace on the ground and should ideally consult with workers about health and safety worries they encounter when performing specific tasks. Analyzing records and evaluating all information about hazards will ensure that you take sufficient precautions for your employees.
Assess The Level Of Risk Posed By The Hazards
Work site hazards can be simple or complex depending on the nature of the industry. Ideally, risk assessments should be undertaken when there is uncertainty about how hazards result in injuries or fatalities at the work site. This is especially true when there is a complete lack of understanding of the complexities involved.
A risk assessment can help employers establish the type of harm that can be caused in specific instances. For example, will the slip and fall result in strains, fatigue or even death? Employers can also determine the number of people exposed to any issues or hazards through the risk assessment. Finally, employers can put specific practice processes in place to minimize the number of risks caused by employees on work sites.
Undertake All Measures Necessary To Control Any Risks That Occur
Controlling risks is important for employers in order to ensure workplace safety. Implementing these control measures can sometimes be challenging, but must be undertaken to ensure safety and prevent expensive lawsuits later. Every industry will have a different level of risk based on the type of operation. For instance, workers are likely at greater risk when working with large construction companies on building sites in comparison to workers in a factory producing soft toys.
While both industries present their own levels of risks, a construction site will likely have more risks than a factory for soft toys. In fact, 899 out of a total of 4,386 worker fatalities occurred in the construction industry, which constituted 20.5 percent of workforce deaths. Out of 899 total deaths, 359 or 39.9 percent of them were the result of falls on construction sites. Employers should find ways to eliminate the hazards completely from work sites, as the most effective control measure. Minimizing hazards by developing strong safety procedures for operating equipment or wearing appropriate shoes on site is a good way for employers to control risks that may occur at the work site.
Re-Look At Control Measures Undertaken For Maximum Safety
Implemented control measures must be routinely reviewed and revised to ensure maximum safety at all times. This helps to ascertain whether the current control measures remain relevant when workplace practices are ever evolving to keep up with changing times.
A re-look at the control measures will also help employers identify whether new risks have arisen and whether different procedures need to be implemented for enhanced safety. Re-looking at control measures is a good way for employers to stay on top of workplace hazards. For instance, newly constructed safety shoes could potentially help to reduce falls on a particular job site, which was previously not available. Guidelines can be re-looked at to include this new workwear requirement as part of the safety procedures.
Maintaining Good Records
Maintaining good records of risk management practices will help employers demonstrate compliance with standards put forth by OSHA and other government organizations regarding worker safety. Industries with hazardous conditions must be particularly careful to keep meticulous records to ensure that fatal slips, trips, and falls at work sites are minimized.
Previous records must be considered to prevent similar future accidents at the work site. OSHA defines that employers with over 10 employees should keep records of serious work-related injuries. For severe injuries at a work site, employers must report any fatality within 8 hours. Any amputation, hospitalization or eye loss must be reported within 24 hours, as per OSHA guidelines.
Making the work site safer for employees is vital for employers to ensure proper workplace protection, which eventually protects them from expensive lawsuits and legal battles.