How Can Slip and Fall Accidents at Work Be Prevented?December 23, 2021
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are one of the leading causes of job-related injuries and deaths. They are so common because they can happen in any type of work environment, from the grocery store to the construction site.
Although some slip and fall events are minor and only leave bumps or bruises, others are quite serious. Employees can suffer painful head, neck, and back injuries that impact their ability to perform job duties and do simple, everyday tasks such as getting dressed or walking up stairs.
Prevention is the key to avoiding devastating slip and fall incidents. This discussion offers some practical ways employers and employees can work together to prevent slip and fall accidents at work.
How Common Are Work Slip and Fall Accidents?
Every day, a staggering 25,000 slip, trip, and fall accidents happen in different workplaces across the United States, resulting in 95 million missed workdays and $70 billion paid out for medical costs and Workers’ Compensation claims.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that slips, trips, and falls cause nearly 700 worker fatalities and countless more injuries every year in the country. These accidents are so frequent because they can happen anywhere at any time. Knowing how and why they occur is the first step to preventing worker injuries and fatalities from slips, trips, and falls on the job.
Distinguishing These Incidents
Slips. Slips happen when a person loses their balance because of too little friction between their feet and the surface on which they are walking. That loss of fraction can be due to spills, slick surfaces, or weather-related hazards such as snow and ice.
Workers are more prone to slipping if they do not pay attention where they are going, if they run, or if they wear the wrong type of footwear for the job.
Trips. People trip when their foot hits an object in their path if they have enough momentum to be knocked off their balance. People who are in a hurry or are not looking where they are going may not notice a tripping hazard on the ground.
Falls. Falls occur when a person moves too far off their center of balance. They can happen at ground level or on a surface off the ground such as a ladder or scaffold. Falls account for more workplace fatalities than other types of accidents, particularly when workers are falling from significant heights.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Most people have had a slip or trip at some point. Many times, the person hurts nothing more than their pride.
But that is not the case for many. Slip and fall accidents are the second leading cause of unintentional death in this country. But what makes them so dangerous? Here is an overview of the some of the common injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents at work and at home:
Broken bones. When a bone cannot withstand the level of force applied, as in a fall, it can break. Hip, wrist, and ankle fractures are especially common after a fall. Bone breaks may require surgery, casting, and weeks or months of physical and occupational therapy.
Knee damage. If your knee slips or twists when you fall, or if you land on your knees, you can suffer considerable damage to the bones and ligaments of the knee. That often means surgical repair or a full-knee reconstruction or replacement and an extensive recovery period to follow.
Sprains and strains. Sprains are stretched or torn ligaments. Strains are stretched or torn tendons. Depending on their severity, the injured worker may experience significant pain and have trouble moving the affected body part. Some sprains and strains often require surgery and extensive rehabilitative therapy as well.
Back and spinal cord injuries. When a person’s back breaks their fall, they are likely to suffer painful damage to their disks or vertebrae. Even more serious, damage to the spinal cord can leave an accident victim with temporary or permanent full or partial paralysis that impacts their mobility and overall quality of life.
Traumatic brain injuries. When a person hits their head on the ground or another surface or object in a fall, they may suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI.) TBIs range in type and severity from a minor bump to a concussion or more serious bleeding in and around the brain, or a skull fracture.
Any trauma to the brain can potentially impact other body systems and functions, and for some, that impairment is permanent.
Practical Tips to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents on the Job
It is important to know how to prevent these common workplace accidents. OSHA guidelines are a good place to start.
Tips to prevent workplace slips
- Walk slowly on newly cleaned or waxed floors.
- Do not let grease or other slippery substances collect on walking surfaces. Clean up or report spills immediately.
- Take caution when walking on uneven or loose carpeting.
- Teach and practice safe-walking skills. That means taking short, deliberate steps while pointing your feet slightly outward.
Tips to prevent workplace trips
- Keep working and walking areas well lit, especially in the evening.
- Keep the workspace neat, tidy, and well organized. Store items safely in appropriate areas, out of walking paths.
- Arrange furniture and equipment in a way that does not interfere with pedestrian traffic.
- Avoid carrying heavy loads that impede your ability to see where you are going.
- Report any maintenance-related hazards on walkways as soon as possible.
Tips to prevent workplace falls
- Wear the appropriate shoes for the job. Choose footwear with non-slip soles.
- If you work at a height, utilize the proper fall protection equipment.
- Repair or replace any broken stairs or handrails.
- Keep walking areas well-lit and clear of hazards.
- Never jump off landings or loading docks. Always use the stairs.
The Importance of Safety Training
Employers have a duty to train employees on how to maintain a safe workplace and avoid slips, trips, and falls as much as possible. That includes providing and reviewing the OSHA handouts, discussing proper footwear for the tasks at hand, and providing protocols for reporting workplace hazards quickly and without repercussions. Job safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Am I Entitled to Workers’ Compensation for a Fall Injury at Work?
Employers in Maryland are required to provide Workers’ Compensation insurance for their employees. However, not every worker is covered. Also, sometimes claims are denied.
That is why it is beneficial to hire a skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer to represent you and your claim. Your Workers’ Compensation lawyer carefully reviews the circumstances of your slip and fall accident to determine if you have a valid claim.
Handling a case alone can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when you are dealing with the emotional and physical pain and trauma after a serious slip and fall incident. The lawyer relieves some of that pressure by filling out the proper paperwork, ensuring all deadlines are met, and building a compelling case for fair compensation.
You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and lost wages. Having that financial support in place can give you much-needed peace of mind so that you can focus your time and attention on recovering from a serious slip and fall injury.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Clients Injured in Slip and Fall Accidents at Work
It only takes a few seconds for a fall to change a person’s life forever. If you were injured because of a slip and fall accident at work, reach out the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the financial benefits to which you are entitled. Our dedicated legal team will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.