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Beware of workplace hazards that cause slips, trips and falls

Few people go through life without ever being a victim of a slip or trip-and-fall accident. The U.S. Department of Labor says falls make up a significant percentage of reported workplace injuries nationwide, including Western Pennsylvania. Have you been the victim of such an accident? Would you recognize the hazards that could cause slips, trips and falls?

The list is almost endless, but learning about the most common dangers might teach you to recognize others. In many cases, the primary hazard is distractions. If personal or home problems have preoccupied you, you might miss an obvious hazard and land yourself in the hospital.

Choose your footwear carefully

If you are involved in a fall accident at work, the shoes you wore at the time will be one of the first things that investigators will look at in determining what contributed to the cause. Slick soles and high heels increase fall risks significantly, and so does improperly tied shoelaces. Shoes that provide excellent traction are essential components of your personal protective equipment.

Good housekeeping

Making proper housekeeping a part of the daily routines of workers can reduce the fall risks. The following steps can establish effective housekeeping standards:

  • Establish a workable program that involves employees, to instill the habit of cleaning personal spaces throughout the day.
  • Have a clear plan by which all workers know the expectations and their respective duties to maintain proper housekeeping.
  • If necessary, appoint individual workers to do the cleaning or to monitor everybody's efforts to clean up after themselves.

The most effective housekeeping plans are the simplest ones.

Mitigate slip hazards

You may encounter many slip hazards as you move about your workplace. Risks are typically present on floors in food preparation areas, shower stalls and change rooms, sidewalks, parking lots and more. The following steps might keep you out of harm's way:

  • Have strict protocols to clean up wet spills immediately, regardless of who or what caused it.
  • Place floor mats with moisture-absorbing qualities and non-slip backing in entrances.
  • Add additional anti-skid adhesive tape in known slippery areas.
  • Make sure that food preparation areas have appropriate floor coverings.
  • Place "Wet Floor" warning signs where necessary.
  • Maintain sidewalks and parking lots to keep them free of potholes and other fall hazards.
  • Keep outdoor areas clear of snow and ice in the winter.
  • Apply anti-skid paint or adhesive stripping in hazardous areas.

Weather conditions often cause outdoor slip hazards, which could then cause hazards indoors as you and your co-workers, along with mobile equipment, then transfer the wetness to the indoor areas.

Mitigate trip hazards

You can play an essential part in keeping aisles and walkways free of obstacles, such as randomly placed materials, tools, equipment and clutter, by doing the following:

  • Allow time to clean up your work area and clear away waste, scrap material and other byproducts of your job.
  • Keep service areas, storerooms and passages hazard free, orderly and clean.
  • If you work in an office, avoid leaving briefcases, files, boxes and other objects in aisles and walkways.
  • Never leave drawers open after use; they can cause severe trip hazards.
  • Avoid running cables, air hoses, extension cords or other wires across designated aisles and walkways.

Just like slip hazards, you can mitigate trip hazards through proper housekeeping.

Poor lighting

All of the above precautions can be to no purpose if poor lighting hides slip and trip hazards. All areas must be well lit, and the areas around light switches must be clear and accessible. Repair or report malfunctioning switches, cords and fixtures as soon as possible.

Accidents may still happen

Despite your best efforts, you might be the victim of a slip or trip incident that left you injured and facing mounting medical bills. If your injuries caused lost workdays, your financial stability might be even more challenging. Fortunately, help is available from a Pittsburgh law firm with board-certified specialists who can handle your workers' compensation benefits claim while you can focus on recovering and returning to work.

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