In May 2010, Luis Zaruma, a construction foreman on a Brooklyn site, fell to his death from the fifth floor of the building under construction. Such falls are not uncommon occurrence. Falls cause 35% of deaths in industry and claim the lives of over 250 workers every year (http://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html). Slips and trips lead to falls. The number of falling deaths would greatly decrease if the causes of slips and trips were removed from the environment. Knowing how to be safe in the workplace saves lives.
Identifying slip, trip, and fall hazards is the first step to staying safe. Most falls are on level floors, unlike the fall that took the life of Luis Zaruma, and are caused by slipping or tripping.
Common Slip Hazards
- Wet or oily surfaces
- Weather hazards
- Loose and/or unanchored mats
- Flooring or walking surfaces that do not have the same degree of traction in all areas
Common Trip Hazards
- Obstructed view
- Poor lighting
- Wrinkled carpeting
- Uncovered cables
- Uneven walking surfaces
Evaluating or checking floors for these kinds of hazards can significantly reduce the chance of a slip or trip leading to a fall accident. Some minor ‘housekeeping’ can remove these hazards, creating a safe environment.
- Clean all spills immediately.
- Mark spills and wet areas.
- Mop or sweep debris from floors.
- Remove obstacles from walkways and always keep them free of clutter.
- Secure mats and carpets that do not lay flat.
- Cover cables that cross walkways.
- Keep work areas and walkways well lit.
- Replace used light bulbs and faulty switches.
Read more at http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/falls.html.
Although most falls happen on level surfaces, preventable falls from greater heights also occur. Guard railings are used to prevent falls from a height. These rails are required by law whenever the drop from one level to another is more than four feet and on stairs that have four or more risers.
Awareness of environmental conditions that increase the risk of slips and trips can save lives. Having the proper safety equipment in place saves lives as well. Be aware of the hazards, be aware of how to prevent accidents, and be safe.
Read more at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/.