Slips and falls result in over 8 million hospital emergency room visits every year, according to the Slip and Fall Quick Facts of the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). Even though slips and falls are not a primary cause of fatal workplace injuries, they are a leading cause of days lost from work.
Due to these facts, and the fact that businesses can be sued by injured workers for personal injury claims for accidents sustained in the workplace, slip and fall accidents can have a serious impact on the financial health of your business.
Moreover, in some cases these accidents can increase the chances of lawsuit against your business. So, it is crucial to accident proof your business premises.
Accident-Proofing Your Place of Business
Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the chances of a slip and fall accident occurring in your place of business.
Check Your Business or Workplace for Hazards
A quick walk around your premises can help you identify and take remedial action against common causes of slip and fall incidents, such as:
- Slippery flooring
- Uneven surfaces
- Gaps between floor panels or tiles; differences in floor heights between rooms
- Cracked or uneven walkways
Quickly Address Problems
Repairs should be scheduled as soon as possible. Some fixes you might want to take care of immediately include:
- Placing non-slip mats where needed
- Repairing or replacing damaged carpets
- Filling potholes and fixing cracked walkways
Improve Safety with Visible Signage
For issues that cannot be easily fixed, you can post brightly colored warning signs instead. Employees can place “wet floor” signs where needed after mopping or even cordon off slippery areas.
Keep Surfaces and Walkways Clean and Clutter-Free
Keeping walkways clear can help you reduce the chances of an accident or injury occurring. Unobstructed paths minimize the chances that an employee can trip over objects on the floor.
Install Handrails in All Stairways
Do all of your stairways have handrails? Are the top and bottom stairs marked with reflectors? Do the edges of your stairs have slip-proof surfaces? Do you regularly check for unsecured rugs or carpeting on your stairs or landings?
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Workplace falls on stairs are common, and extra care is needed to reduce the risk of injury in these places. Keep your stairwells clear, well-lit, and free from clutter and unsecured objects.
Use Proper Footwear
Make sure your employees wear footwear that is work-appropriate. Shoes with adequate traction should be made mandatory where needed.
Check Your Lighting
Poor lighting can lead to falls. Look for areas that have poor lighting, low visibility, glare, or shadows, all of which can make it difficult to spot floor or walkway hazards, especially in the early morning or after sunset.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inadequate lighting is most common in parking structures, stairwells, storage rooms, walkways both inside and outside your facility or place of business, and hallways.
Install Non-skid Rugs on Slippery Surfaces
If you have tiles or hardwood floors in areas that are prone to splashes (such as the bathroom) then adding non-skid rugs can help reduce the chances of accidents occurring in those places.
Make sure the rugs you install have non-skid padding underneath them to prevent the rug itself from slipping as well.
One of the best ways to prevent slip-and-fall accidents (as well as lawsuits) is to regularly inspect your business to identify areas that have the highest risk potential.
Document your hazard inspections, keep a record of when hazards appear, and take notes of what was done to eliminate the issue(s). Display warning signs for known hazards, complete a thorough incident report after every slip-and-fall accident, and record statements from the victim as well as any eyewitnesses.
Finally, never admit fault for an accident until after you have consulted with a personal injury lawyer and spoken to your insurance provider about the issue.