If you’ve ever slipped on an oily patch of floor or tripped over uneven ground you know how easy it can be to take a fall. And if you did fall, you would join the more than 42,000 people who get injured each year in work-related falls.

That’s about 17 percent of the “time-loss injuries” across Canada as well as a lot of economic loss, pain and suffering, and sometimes even death.

You may be surprised to learn that most falls don’t happen from roofs, ladders, or any other heights. In fact, around 66 percent of falls happen on the same level, caused by slips and trips. Here are some things you should know to prevent “falls on the same level”.

"if you did fall, you would join the more than 42,000 people who get injured each year in work-related falls."

Slips and trips happen when there is some unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground or floor. Keeping that in mind, there are four factors that should be addressed in preventing fall accidents: 1) Worksite cleanliness; 2) quality of walking surfaces; 3) proper footwear; and 4) pace of walking.

Worksite cleanliness

Keeping the worksite clear and clutter free is the first and foremost most important factor in preventing falls due to slips and trips. Be sure to:

  • Clean all spills immediately and mark spills and wet areas.
  • Sweep debris from floors.
  • Remove obstacles from walkways and always keep them free of clutter.
  • Secure wires that do not lay flat with tape, tacks, etc.
  • Cover cables that cross walkways.
  • Keep working areas and walkways well lit; replace used light bulbs and faulty switches.

Flooring

Changing or modifying walking surfaces to provide “sure footing” is an important step in preventing slips and trips. Uneven ground can further lead to slips, trips and falls so ensuring all walkways have a flat surface can further improve safety and reduce the risk of falling. Also, resilient, non-slippery flooring prevents or reduces foot fatigue and can help prevent slips.

Footwear

In workplaces where floors may be oily or wet or where workers spend a lot of time outdoors, selecting proper footwear is essential to preventing fall accidents. Since there is no anti-slip footwear ideal for every condition, it is recommended that you consult with manufacturers for the available options best suited to your needs. Wearing footwear that fits properly increases your comfort and prevents fatigue which, in turn, improves your safety.

Steps you can take to avoid falling at work

Safety is everybody’s business; however, it is the employers’ responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all employees. As an employee there are steps you can take to avoid falling at work.

You can reduce the risk of slipping on wet flooring by:

  • Taking your time and paying attention to where you are going.
  • Walking at a pace that is suitable for the walking surface and the tasks you are doing.
  • Making wide turns at corners.

You can reduce the risk of tripping by:

  • Keeping walking areas clear from clutter or obstructions and in good condition.
  • Using installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks.
  • Using a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light.
  • Ensuring that things you are carrying or pushing do not prevent you from seeing any obstructions spills, etc.