7 Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Slips, Trips and Falls
Colorado workers’ compensation attorney R. Mack Babcock provides guidelines for employers and workers to prevent slips and falls on-the-job
Workplace injuries happen for a wide variety of reasons, but one of the most common causes is slip-and-fall accidents. The types of injuries suffered in these accidents can range from mild to catastrophic and are often more severe than the injured worker initially realizes.
Unless the injury clearly resulted in a serious head injury, broken bone or a mobility problem, injured workers often hope for the best after suffering from a slip-and-fall accident and don’t always report the injury. Unfortunately, this can lead to the denial of workers’ comp benefits.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip-and-fall accident at work, it’s important to understand your right to compensation. Our Denver work injury attorney can help explain your rights and ensure you follow all necessary procedures to recover maximum compensation.
Slip-and-fall injury statistics
Slip-and-fall accidents are a major cause of work-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S. each year. This is especially true for construction workers due to the heights at which these workers often must perform their jobs.
Just look at these statistics:
- 15% of all accidental deaths in the workplace are a result of slips, trips and falls.
- 1 in 3 deaths in the construction industry is due to slip-and-fall accidents.
- 18% of nonfatal work injuries that require time off work for recovery are caused by slips, trips and falls.
Needless to say, workers and business owners need to take serious safety measures to help prevent these unnecessary injuries.
Common causes of work-related slip-and-fall accidents
Below are some of the most commonly cited causes of preventable slip, trip and fall injuries at work.
Slip-and-fall injuries happen more often on ice and snow in the winter season, especially in states like Colorado. At work, icy conditions may make employees move more cautiously and pay closer attention while walking, but the cold weather might also entice others to move quickly to stay warm. Poor footing can be a real issue in icy conditions, and paying close attention to walkways can be vital to avoiding an injury.
Cluttered work areas
Businesses like warehouses, stores and restaurants that frequently have merchandise to load, unload or stock are often cluttered with boxes that create tripping hazards for employees. Additionally, construction workers, electricians and others who work around power tools and other equipment that require long cords are more likely to trip at work.
The most common workplace slip-and-fall injuries occur on wet surfaces, especially when water is used to keep a work area clean as part of the production process. For example, this is typical in food manufacturing plants that employ in-house food safety monitors. Sanitation is important, but as a consequence, it can cause wet floors.
At all places of employment, safety shoes and work boots aren’t always utilized or effective, and it’s easy to slip and fall at any point during a work shift. This fact, combined with strict production schedules that encourage employees to stay in motion, results in a higher risk of slip-and-fall injury due to workplace conditions.
Elevated work areas
Working in elevated areas makes a potential slip-and-fall accident more dangerous. The construction industry is where most fatal falls occur, accounting for more than 46% of all work-related slip-and-fall deaths in 2020.
These injuries can be avoided if employers implement appropriate safety measures in the workplace. Unfortunately, many employers consider safety training and tools an unnecessary expense to their business. This type of thinking is flawed and often to the detriment of employees.
How to prevent slip-and-fall accidents at work
Employers and employees can help prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace by implementing the following these 7 safety measures and practices:
- Ensure proper lighting. Always make sure a work area is well-lit so employees can see their surroundings. If there’s a light that is burned out or a malfunction in a switch, fix it immediately. As for employees, always turn the lights on before walking into a room to avoid any potential tripping hazards.
- Wear the appropriate shoes and other clothing. Whatever your job is, make sure you wear the proper footwear according to the types of responsibilities you have. For example, if you’re a warehouse worker, closed-toed and possibly steel-toed shoes are most appropriate. The slickness of the bottom of your soles can be an issue, especially if you work in food service, so make sure your shoes have the necessary traction.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. Texting or being otherwise distracted while walking around your workplace increases your chance of getting injured. Rushing from one place to another also makes slip-and-fall accidents more likely, so try to slow down and be aware of your surroundings as much as possible.
- Reduce slippery and wet surfaces. Always make certain that all walking areas are dry or that a sign is placed immediately to let others know that the surface is wet or slippery.
- Maintain excellent housekeeping practices. Make certain employees know that keeping their workspace clean is one of the keys to safety. Usually, companies with excellent housekeeping practices have far fewer accidents, so make this a priority.
- Avoid creating obstacles. Always be smart about where you place objects. Don’t lay down a box in an aisle or string cables and cords in ways where others could trip over them.
- Monitor traction control. The traction in an outside work area can change drastically according to weather conditions. Monitor these conditions on a regular basis and take appropriate measures when necessary. Inside, always check to make sure your traction control procedures are working. Use anti-skid paint or adhesive striping material when necessary.
Steps to take after a slip-and-fall accident at work
If you’re injured on the job, you’re entitled to medical treatment and compensation for lost wages, regardless of fault, but you must take the following steps to secure these benefits:
- Seek medical attention. Your first priority is to obtain medical treatment. This will prevent your injury from getting worse and ensure that your accident is documented, which is necessary for a successful workers’ comp claim.
- Report your injury. Next, you need to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible, but ideally within 4 days.
- Verify that your employer notified their insurer. It’s your employer’s responsibility to notify their workers’ comp insurer of your injury within 10 days.
- Wait to hear if your claim is approved. The insurance company should make a decision to approve or deny your claim within 20 days.
- Contact an attorney. If your claim is denied or you need help filing a claim, contact a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Contact a Denver workers’ compensation attorney
With so much going on after a work injury, it’s hard to know whether you’re receiving all of the Colorado workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to. Just when you expect the system to work flawlessly and fairly, you encounter roadblocks that prevent you from obtaining the benefits you need to treat your injuries and compensate you for time off work.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Denver can help you navigate through these challenges and ensure you receive these much-needed benefits.
If you were injured at work, contact a compassionate and experienced workers’ compensation attorney at The Babcock Law Firm. We have a long track record of demanding justice for our clients.
Slip-and-fall injuries can last a lifetime, and you only have one shot at receiving fair and full compensation, so contact us today for your free consultation.
If you’ve sustained an on-the-job injury, contact The Babcock Law Firm for a free consultation, or continue browsing our workers’ comp blog, knowledge resources and our exclusive (PDF) workers’ comp e-book for more information.
Continue reading these related articles for more information…
- Reporting a Work-Related Injury or Condition
- Tips on Recognizing and Preventing Cold Hazard Work Injuries
- Tips of Keeping Cab and Truck Drivers Safe in a Dangerous Profession
**NOTE: This article and all content at Injurylawcolorado.com is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.