Did you know that falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries?
It has probably happened to most of us. You are at your workplace, and there is a momentary lapse of inattention that ends in a slip, trip, or fall. Slipping over a wet floor that was wiped down minutes ago by the janitor. A stumble down a stairway as your hands are full with files and documents. A trip over protruding objects. Slips, trips, and falls are common in the workplace because there is a lot going on, and it only takes a little distraction to find yourself lying on the floor.
Sometimes it can turn out to be a moment of laughter for you and the bystanders, but in reality, these types of workplace accidents are extremely dangerous. According to Safe Work Australia, 23% of injuries caused by trips, slips and falls resulted in serious claims.
Thus, it is important to identify and eliminate floor safety hazards in the workplace to keep everyone, from employees to visitors, safe.
The following is a guide to floor safety tactics that every business owner should incorporate into their floor safety plan to eliminate slips and falls.
#1 Identify Floor Safety Hazards with an Audit
The first step to minimising or eliminating workplace injuries due to slip, trip, and fall is to identify potential floor safety hazards. Floor safety is often overlooked at the workplace. You can call professional walkway auditors, on-site personnel, or safety consultants to perform an audit. It is important to audit all the areas of the facility, including cubicles, stairways, cafeteria, assembly lines, etc. Even stair safety is vital. The best way to conduct an audit is to speak with employees and workers who spend most of their time in that part of the facility. The audit should cover the following factors:
- What are the potential causes of tips and falls? Slippery tiles, wrinkled rugs, uneven surface, curled entrance, or more?
- What are the causes of slipperiness? Poor quality flooring, aged floors, leaks and spills, weather, over-cleaning?
- How well is the lighting in slip-prone areas?
- What is the general condition of the floor throughout the day? Wet or dry?
- What are the types of the floor at the facility? Tiles, wood, concrete?
#2 Address Slippery Surfaces and Repair Problem Areas
Low-traction surfaces like loose floor tiles, parking lots with potholes, etc., are all floor safety hazards. They should be addressed and corrected. Regular maintenance of the floor, pavements, and parking lots are always advised. Most importantly, areas that could not be improved right away should be marked with a safety sign to alert employees, workers, and visitors about the same.
#3 Organise Work Areas
One of the biggest reasons for workplace accidents is the unorganised and cluttered work areas. It is easy to trip and fall over cardboard boxes that were not meant to be in the cubicle pathway. It is vital that your employees and workers understand the seriousness of having organised work areas. An organised workplace is the first step towards preventing injuries. This issue can be easily dealt with using the 5S model. Many businesses follow the 5S model that translates to:
Sort all the items and tag or group them so that they are kept in their respective places.
Set in order all the workplace essentials in a way that makes sense and benefits the job functions of the employees.
Shine and clean the storage areas frequently to ensure optimum functionality.
Standardise the floor safety rules and guidelines for the employees to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Strict actions should be taken against those who do not follow the rules meant for everyone’s safety.
Sustain the above-mentioned floor-safety practices by enforcing them on the workforce. Employees must be reminded of the importance of keeping the workspace clean and organised.
#4 Maintain Adequate Lighting throughout the Workplace
Inadequate lighting can increase the risk of accidents from slips, trips, and falls at the workplace. This includes stairs, walkways, dock areas, basements, storage areas, ramps, and hallways. If it is a construction site, all the areas must be well lit at all times during work hours.
On the other hand, it should be reminded to the employees to always turn on the lights when entering a dark room. Therefore, the light switches should be placed close to the door. Most importantly, the switchboards, cords, bulbs, and other light fixtures should be replaced or repaired immediately when needed.
#5 Create a Floor Maintenance and Cleaning Plan
The workspace floor should always be clean and dry. Floors get wet all the time. Spills and mopping are what can make the floors slick. So, it is important to put out a ‘wet floor’ sign after spills and mopping to prevent slips and falls. Invest in moisture-absorbent mats to keep the floors dry.
Floor safety is a serious concern and should be discussed with each member of the workforce. Ask for suggestions on how to keep the floors safe and employees from tripping and falling. Conduct audits for better insights and make sure necessary changes are made before another or a new incident happens.