Yellow wet floor sign

For business owners, slip and fall accidents on your premises can turn into a costly affair. If an employee suffers an injury, that person will have to file a workers’ compensation claim. On the other hand, if a customer or another third-party individual experiences a fall, you may be served with a lawsuit.

Despite these major risks, slips and falls make up the majority of workplace accidents, including 25 percent of reported injury claims and 15 percent of all accidental deaths. In total, the injuries are beyond 65 percent of all work days lost.

So, to reduce the likelihood of a slip and fall from happening on your business property, what steps can you take?

1. Understand Common Workplace Injury Hazards

A slip and fall could be the result of losing traction between a shoe and the floor, stepping on a moveable object or otherwise losing balance. For customers, slips and falls frequently occur in poorly lit parking lots with slippery surfaces, potholes or ice and snow coating the sidewalk.

As a result, becoming familiar with the common scenarios that often lead to injury can help you prevent them from happening in the first place. They include:

  • Wet, greasy, polished, waxed or powder-covered floors
  • Uneven walking surfaces in and outside your facility
  • Loose flooring, mats or carpets or missing tiles or bricks
  • Missing steps or handrails
  • Sloped areas
  • Workers wearing wet or oily soles without traction
  • Clutter or piles that someone could trip over
  • Electrical cords or cables in the way
  • Open drawers
  • Poor transitions from one space to the next
  • Areas without skid-resistant surfaces
  • Weather hazards, such as rain, snow and ice
  • Leaves tracked into work or customer areas
  • Protruding objects
  • Curb or sidewalk drops
  • Speed bumps or tire bumpers that aren’t clearly marked
  • Poor lighting or shadows
  • Driveways and parking lots that haven’t been maintained
  • Improper footwear

2. Make Cleanup Procedures

When something spills, how do your employees handle it? As soon as you understand common slip and fall hazards, have a plan in place for correcting them right away. In general, try to:

  • Keep the facility clean and organized.
  • Have a daily cleaning process in which you know what needs to be done and you assign those tasks to a group of employees.
  • Get rid of clutter, including any stacked boxes or supplies in the hallway.
  • Have a system in place for reporting and addressing hazards.

Additionally, make sure your employees or facility supervisor regularly checks the following hazard-prone areas to reduce wet and slippery surfaces:

  • Anywhere employees, customers or clients walk
  • Parking lots
  • Sidewalks
  • Food preparation areas
  • Shower stalls or any place workers clean off equipment
  • All floors

After these regular assessments, make sure to clearly indicate a hazard, such as adding a “caution” or “wet floor” sign. In the process:

  • Immediately clean up a spill
  • Make repairs to the area
  • Remove any snow or ice
  • Add an anti-skid surface or moisture-absorbent mat

Further, check areas where discharge happens and clean up any fluids. These areas tend to be:

  • Exhaust ventilation systems
  • Extraction or collection systems
  • Various enclosures where condensation could collect
  • Areas with raised or lipped edges
  • Drain-offs
  • Catch or drip pans

3. Update Your Facility

Does your building seem to welcome injuries? The facility’s design may be to blame. In this case, to reduce the instances of slips and falls, you may need to:

  • Make the doorways and walkways larger to accommodate the amount of foot traffic typically passing through.
  • Maintain the floor surfaces. In certain spots like the parking lot, overlooked repairs can lead to slippery or rough surfaces.
  • Add a slip-resistant floor treatment. If employees continue to fall while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), the floor itself may be responsible.
  • Update lighting to make sure your walkways, staircases, halls, basement, dock areas and any construction are sufficiently illuminated. All switches should be clearly marked and accessible for all individuals.

4. Make Sure Your Workers Are Safe

For your employees, the key factor in safety is correct, well-fitting PPE. Do their boots or other forms of foot protection match industry standards? Additionally, make sure any work boots or shoes:

  • Have treaded or traction soles, rather than smooth or slick soles. Ideally, they should be wearing oil- and slip-resistant footwear.
  • Have tied laces or are slip-ons.
  • Are appropriate for the task.

Additionally, focus and awareness of one’s surroundings help avoid injuries. As a result, supervisors should watch out for:

  • Employees who appear distracted.
  • Anyone who appears to rush, walk fast or isn’t watching where he or she is going.
  • Employees who are walking while using a cell phone, tablet or another electronic device.
  • Workers who take unsafe shortcuts.

Have you slipped and fallen on a business premises or are you an employee starting a workers’ compensation claim? In either instance, turn to Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers. To learn more about both types of cases, contact us today.