Do you have effective slip, trip, and fall prevention measures in place in your facilities? Are you following a systematic approach? When someone in your organization mentions a slippery floor or a trip hazard, are they likely to be taken seriously if no one has yet experienced an injury? Are there spots in your facilities where it's accepted that a floor is slippery but nothing is being done about it?
A systematic approach can be facilitated with the use of several key consensus standards focused on pedestrian safety. Rather than beginning with a blank sheet of paper, these standards can form the framework for effective proactive prevention efforts.
A proactive approach to prevention of slips, trips, and falls is the responsible way to tackle this ever-present issue. Many organizations follow reactive approaches, and essentially are waiting for accidents to happen. Taking the time to proactively identify hazards is time well spent, considering the alternative of responding to litigation, or workers compensation discovery requests. Once a claim has been filed and litigation is initiated, your valuable time will be spent: looking through and for records and answering interrogatories; preparing for and giving depositions, not only your own, but other personnel who's time could certainly be better spent; and sitting through a trial waiting to be cross examined by an unfriendly attorney. Not to mention the pain and suffering incurred upon the victim of a fall, which could have been prevented had appropriate and timely measures been taken.
The first step toward reduction of any significant accident type is to do a thorough analysis and rank loss types in order of their magnitude in loss dollars. In many instances this analysis will show that a fall safety and control program will be a high priority, often the first priority. Such an analysis will validate the allocation of resources to show management not only what falls are costing them but what cost-efficient means can be implemented to reduce their losses.
A fall analysis will examine where falls are occurring and potentially the demographics of persons falling. You can then look at floor type, contaminants present on the floor, the footwear being worn, and other potential factors. Once a thorough accident analysis has been performed, remedies to the major problems will begin to suggest themselves, and you will be able to pursue possible fixes that appear most practical.
Well designed facilities can still be susceptible to frequent falling incidents. It is therefore necessary to implement an appropriate management control program, which maintains a facility in a condition that is as free of falling hazards as is reasonably possible. The scope and size of management controls may depend on a number of factors including: the size of the facility and its grounds; the amount of pedestrian traffic and the demographic makeup of that traffic; the familiarity of the pedestrian traffic with the facility and its surroundings; the type of hazards and extent of environmental exposure and influence.