Identifying potential workplace hazards is an essential first step in eliminating or minimizing the chance of workplace injuries and illness. One very common workplace hazard that is often overlooked is floor safety.
Floor and walkway hazards are often missed in job hazard assessments, perhaps because they aren’t tied directly to a specific hazardous chemical or dangerous process. And although it is the second leading cause of workplace injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not many facilities are actually cited for slippery floors that are not in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) walking and working surface regulation [29 CFR 1910.22(a)(2)].
A majority of safety professionals, as well as insurance carriers, recognize the need for awareness of floor safety hazards. In a recent EHS Today survey, more than 61 percent of safety professionals said that they are actively targeting slip, trip and fall hazards at their facilities. Insurance carriers, such as Liberty Mutual and State Farm, also have conducted extensive research into these injuries and are actively helping their clients avoid this common cause of workers’ compensation claims.
If your facility’s OSHA 300 log contains lost worktime injuries related to slips, trips and falls, it’s time to stop accepting them as cost of doing business and treat them like other workplace safety hazards. A floor and walkway audit can be performed in-house or by a National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) and accredited by the American National Safety Institute (ANSI) certified and trained walkway auditor.
A walkway safety audit identifies walking surfaces that could contribute to a slip, trip or fall injury. Because more than 50 percent of slips, trips and falls are caused by problems with the walking surface, according to NFSI, eliminating walking surface hazards is an easy way to cut the potential for these injuries in half.
Establishing a footwear program can help avoid an additional 24 percent of slip and fall injuries. And if eliminating the cause of almost 74 percent of injuries isn’t enough (and we all know it’s not) case studies conducted by the NFSI have proven that having a comprehensive floor safety plan can reduce the potential for injuries by 90 percent.
The good news is that most floor safety hazards can be quickly, easily and inexpensively corrected. Even better news is that most walking surface plans and procedures can be incorporated into good housekeeping procedures that are already in place – so this doesn’t become yet another independent list of things to remember or do.
Slip, trip and fall injuries are likely to result in lost worktime and high workers’ compensation claims. Performing a floor safety audit now and developing a plan to eliminate hazards helps prevent this leading — and very preventable — cause of workplace injury.