Ensuring Personal Safety at Work
Falls are one of the top concerns when it comes to personal safety in the workplace. Anyone is prone to falling, and you don’t need to be engaging in dangerous or risky behavior for it to happen to you. Falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits. This makes it the leading cause of hospital visits. Slip and falls specifically account for over 1 million visits, or 12% of total falls. One of the most serious consequences of falling is a fracture, which is a break in a bone that happens to 5% of those who fall. Slip and fall accidents can also lead to pain in various parts of the body, large medical bills, lost wages, and even death. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent these accidents. Some of the best ways to prevent slip and fall accidents in the workplace include:
- Make sure stairways have solid handrails.
Handrails are an important part of stair safety. Workplaces that do not incorporate this safety measure tend to be the most vulnerable to letting workers fall. To ensure maximum safety for the employees, it is best to make sure the handrails are secured and that the area surrounding the stairwell is clear, well lit, and free of random objects. If you want to be extra careful, mark the top and the bottom of the stairs with reflective tape and remove any unsecured rugs from the area.
- Keep walking areas clean and clutter-free.
Keeping walkways clear is another one of the best ways to lessen instances of injury. From the employees’ point of view, if their path is unobstructed, it minimizes their chances of tripping and makes them feel much safer and secure in their work environment. The employers will feel safer as well knowing that they are less likely to be responsible for their workers’ injury.
- Require proper shoes.
This rule is especially important for workers who perform manual labor and who are often on their feet on the job. If you want to cover your bases when it comes to footwear safety, it would be wise to put a rule into place requiring proper shoes on the job. Shoes should fit properly, be comfortable to wear, and not be defective in any way. If they want to be extra careful, they would do well to wear shoes with metal insoles or reinforced soles. Not only will this help prevent slips and falls, but it will also help prevent employees from puncturing their feet with nails and other sharp objects that could be contaminated. If your employees work frequently with electricity, it would be wise to advise them to wear non-conducting shoes, as well as shoes with steel toes or soles with metal components. Those who work with corrosive chemicals should wear neoprene or chemically impenetrable rubber boots. Those who work with wet or oily walking surfaces should wear slip resistant or oil-resistant shoes. As you can see, the requirements that should be put into place vary based on the individual work environment, but making sure the proper measures have been taken will prevent injury and headache in the long run.
- Install substantial lighting.
Sometimes, a dangerous slip and fall situation can be prevented by a step as simple as installing quality lighting. The better lit an area is, the safer it is. When employees are able to see clearly, they are able to do their job with greater ease. This creates an advantageous situation for all involved because the workers stay safe, work more efficiently, and the employer is more likely to avoid an injury lawsuit. Some great ways to make the lighting better in your workplace include fitting LEDs and maximizing opportunities for natural light. If done properly, this will help to both save money and improve light quality. However, we do not recommend relying on natural light if the space does not give the opportunity to do so. You should not only make sure that lighting is present, but also that it is installed correctly. Failing to do so could result in a poorly lit area and in the worst-case scenario, a situation where the lighting falls and injures an employee.
- Use clear, well-lit signage when necessary.
For many businesses, signs are an important part of daily safety. They are a great way to communicate with employees about any potential hazards in the workplace. This helps you cover your bases so that if an employee does become injured, you would be less likely to be liable. Your signs need to communicate their messages easily and effectively to those on the job. There are four main signs that can help employees in the workplace: prohibition, warning, mandatory, and emergency. Prohibition signs should be used for “do not” commands. For example, they can indicate that smoking is not allowed in a particular area or to prohibit activities that could lead to danger. Warning signs, on the other hand, are meant to make people aware of a nearby danger. For example, you might see a warning sign for a flammable liquid store. Mandatory signs are used to indicate an action that should be performed in order to guarantee safety. One of the most common is a “FIRE DOOR KEEP SHUT” sign. Additionally, areas of construction sites that require hard hats should have signs that notify those who enter the area. Lastly, emergency signs provide information on emergency exits, first aid information, and rescue facilities.
- Place step stools where necessary.
Step stools and ladders can lessen the chances of a fall because they will help the employee reach heights in a safe way. However, we do not recommend simply placing a stepping stool where it is needed and calling it a day. You should make sure the stool is placed on a surface that can support all four feet. It is important to be diligent about the fact that there are no damaged or missing parts of the stepping stool or ladder. The stool or ladder should not be stored in a location near excessive heat or chemical vapors, and items should not be stored on top of it.
- Be meticulous about checking the conditions of the floor in the work environment.
When it comes to keeping employees safe, it is necessary to make sure there are no cracks or holes in the flooring. Unfilled concrete areas and uneven flooring can lead to slips and falls as well as fatigue and worsened back pain for your employees. In the proper environment, such as in an area that is prone to dirt and water like entrances, exits, kitchens, and locker rooms, placing mats is one way to improve the safety of the floor. You should choose the correct kind of mat for your specific needs and make sure the mats stay clean and are not defective.
- Clean up spills immediately.
If a spill happens in the workplace, the best way to ensure employee safety is to clean it up immediately. When it comes to spill control, it is a good idea to be proactive and prevent spills from happening in the first place. For example, if applicable, make sure that all gaskets and taps are fitted properly. Implement specific clean-up and maintenance protocol for employees and make sure that the rules are being followed. However, accidents happen, and it is best to be prepared. Plan ahead for what could spill in your workplace and how much of the substance could spill. Purchase absorbents of the correct kind and store them close to the site of a potential spill. If you run into a spill, your first priority should be to contain it rather than clean it. This means stopping the spilled material from flowing by putting up barriers. At that point, you can move on to mopping up the substance and disposing of it properly. Your signage will also come in handy here, as you can place a sign to let nearby employees know to stay away from the area until it is fully dry and your employees can do their job safely.
To learn more about personal injury attorneys and to get more information about slip and fall cases, call Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey, PLLC at (607) 228-8404 or contact us online.