Someone slipping and falling on a banana peel may be funny in the movies, but in the real world and especially the workplace, it’s no laughing matter. One bad accident can wipe out many years of profits.
Slips, trips and falls may sound trivial, but they are responsible for more than one million lawsuits a year and are the leading cause of emergency room visits in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, slips, trips and falls cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths and are the second leading cause of fatalities, right behind car accidents. Last year, 822 people lost their lives to work-related falls, according to Don Ostrander, CSP, director of consulting services occupational safety and health at the National Safety Council in Itasca, Ill. Most of these, he said, resulted from falls from one level to another.
Luckily, many such accidents are avoidable. The workplace blog Tradepost suggests three key steps to ensuring a safe workplace.
Recognize hazards. Familiarity breeds contempt, or at the very least, complacency. Just because you know to look out for that hard-to-see step or loose floorboard doesn’t mean everyone else does. Don’t ignore such potential trip hazards. Recognize the danger so you can protect others.
Control hazards. Merely acknowledging a hazardous situation is not enough. If something is spilled, clean it up immediately. If there is a hazardous structural issue, either fix it or make sure others know to avoid it. Don’t assume that the problem can wait or that someone else will take care of it. Get it under control before someone gets hurt.
Prevent hazards. Removing hazards is important, but the safest workplace is one where they don’t occur in the first place. Don’t just wipe up spills and put away objects people may trip over—determine the fundamental causes of any recurring hazards so you can prevent them from happening again in the future.
Following these three commonsense measures can save companies money and workers from a world of hurt.
Stephen Wycoff is the franchise owner of the Remedy Intelligent Staffing office in Gainesville, Lake City and Ocala. Visit their website at www.remedystaff.com.