Inside every office building there is a lurking shadow of danger that often goes completely unnoticed. Only by learning how to identify specific threats and spreading this knowledge can we hope to effectively combat this source of danger.
What source of danger, you might ask? Not vampires or werewolves; not disease or hungry predators. Our monster is much less overt but just as dangerous — slips, trips and falls around the office.
According to Augusta University’s Environmental Health and Safety Division, slips, trips and falls are no laughing matter. They represent a legitimate safety concern, and taking steps to prevent them is a vital component of creating a safe working environment.
Slips, trips and falls may sound identical and connote the same idea, but there are distinctions between each.
A wet or dry (from powder or dust) floor usually causes slipping. It also frequently occurs when transitioning from one floor type to another. Tripping, alternatively, is often the result of a person’s foot striking an object, which in turn causes a loss of balance. Falling can occur from one level to a lower level or at the same level.
Resulting injuries caused by slips, trips and falls can also vary in severity, from a bruised ego or scraped knee to a broken leg or even death. Last year, they were responsible for over 800 of the 4,836 fatal occupational injuries in the U.S.. They accounted for nearly 310,000 occupational injuries serious enough to require time off from work (approximately 27 percent of all serious injuries).
Fortunately, there are simple measures that can be enacted to significantly reduce the potential danger of slipping, tripping or falling:
- Avoid wet floors; if you cannot avoid them, walk very slowly.
- Keep drawers and cabinets closed at all times.
- Don’t carry large objects that obstruct your view.
- Never stand on a chair or table or anything not designed for climbing.
- Be aware of surroundings and pay attention to what you’re doing.
According to industrial hygienist Garrett Godsey from the Division of Environmental Health and Safety, the simplest measure for preventing office accidents is also the most effective.
“The best way to prevent falls is to be attentive and avoid distractions,” Godsey said. “Being attentive and avoiding distractions and complacency … are key things to remember in all parts of life, both professional and personal.”