A full 20 percent of all nonfatal workplace accidents happen because someone fell, slipped or tripped. These accidents are the third leading cause of lost workdays in the United States.
Sometimes the causes are just carelessness. A drawer was left open and someone ran into it. But there are other specific causes for these accidents that come up from the occupational data.
- Improperly lifting techniques or trying to carry things that are not safely arranged to be carried.
- Using a ladder incorrectly or improvising to create a ladder out of something not intended to be used that way.
- Sleepiness on the part of the workforce leads to carelessness.
- Poorly lit workplaces – especially on stairwells – is a major safety hazard leading to falls.
- Wearing the wrong shoes is a major slip and fall issue.
Trying to carry any load that makes you feel “off balance” is dangerous. Sometimes it is related to the shape or bulk or the load and other times it is the actual weight. Regardless, use a cart or ask for help. Keep one hand free to help with balance especially if you are carrying things up or down a flight of steps or across wet surfaces.
It is considered a life threatening fall anytime you fall the distance of your own body height. In other words, a 6 foot tall guy who falls 6 feet has just had a life threatening fall. A chair or up ended waste can is not a ladder. But there is more to consider for a safe climb.
- Your ladder should extend at least 3 feet taller than your job.
- Watch for power lines, trees or other things over your head.
- Always inspect your ladder before you climb. Make sure that your steps treads are secure and that the locking mechanism is secure. Look for dirt or grease or other debris on the ladder.
- Extend your ladder at the proper angle. For every 4 feet in height, you ladder should move 1 foot out.
- Make sure your ladder is on level solid ground. Avoid wet areas, mud, grease or other ground hazards.
- If you are on the ladder someone should be holding it on the ground OR your ladder should be anchored to the ground with ties.
- When climbing up or down, your hands should grip the sides of the ladder to avoid getting dirt, grease or other slippery stuff on your hands from the treads.
- Keep three points of contact on the ladder at all times. That means that one hand and both feet should be on the ladder. Use a tool belt or ladder hooks to avoid having your hands full of things.
- Move the ladder rather than extending your body.
- Never stand on a ladder’s top rung.
We are all tired and few of us can honestly say we are getting the 7-8 hours of sleep each night that healthcare professionals say we need. In the workplace this can translate into a safety issue with sleep people doing careless things. Tips to combat sleepiness include taking a stretch walk during lunch or other break times. Vary your tasks to relax different muscle groups and to change the zoning out of your mind.
When you notice you are not paying attention stop what you are doing, breathe deeply and deliberately refocus your mind on your surroundings. Short breaks of even 30 to 60 seconds throughout the day will improve the focus you have on your tasks. Stand up, move around and walk for just a few minutes. Snacks matter. Your attention will stay focused if you snack on fruits, vegetables and drink water.
Nobody wants to work with impaired co-workers. It goes without saying that alcohol on the worksite is a risk. But even prescribed drugs can leave people suddenly drowsy and at risk for accident.
Poor lighting can prove to be a hard to solve hazard. Keep what light sources there are in working order and clear of obstructions. Stay alert on the areas that are dimly lit such as stairwells, loading docks and parking lots. Areas with poor lighting should also be kept clear of tools, boxes, power cords and other clutter.
The wrong shoes are more than a fashion statement. Wrong shoes can be dangerous. Synthetic rubber soles are best for wet surfaces. Crepe soles also work well for wet areas if the floor is a rough concrete. A crepe soul is not recommended for tile, wood or smooth concrete floors.
- Neoprene soles soft rubber soles or crepe soles work well in dry flooring areas. Crepe soles, again, are suggested if the concrete dry floor is rough.
- Hard rubber soles are best for hard floors that with oils or grease. They are not recommended at all for tile, wood or concrete (wet or dry).
- Smooth soles are a terrible idea for carpeted floors.
- Walls Lumber and Hardware carries all the right tools, lighting supplies and safety equipment to make your projects safer. Come by and we will help you find ways to prevent falls at your workplace.