A slip or fall is nothing to worry about, right? Wrong! Slips, trips and falls
account for 30% of all employee accidents in educational facilities and are a
leading cause of accidental deaths across the country. Surprising, isn’t it?
Underestimating the risks
It’s very easy to underestimate the danger of these simple, common hazards. Yet
slips and falls are responsible for thousands of injuries and compensation
claims every year and can cause long-term pain and suffering. While the
statistics are daunting, the good news is that that this type of injury is
highly preventable. Slips, trips and falls can be easily avoided, simply by
following some basic, common-sense safety procedures. The risks of injury are as
high at home as they are at work, so preventing slips and falls is everyone’s
Slips happen when there is not enough friction between your foot and the walking
surface, causing you to lose your balance. Common causes of slips include:
|•||wet or oily surfaces
|•||loose, unanchored rugs and mats
However, slips are most often caused by a sudden change in surface conditions.
As your footing becomes less secure, you make split second balance adjustments,
which may lead to injuries and falls.
You’re more likely to slip when you step from:
|•||a dry spot to a wet one
|•||a rough floor covering (carpet) to a
smooth one (marble tile)
|•||a clean, bare surface onto a patch of
something loose or slick
Icy surfaces are an obvious risk, but what about the snow and ice you track
inside on your shoes? Pools of water on the floor can be as dangerous as any ice
patch. The little things you forget, like mopping up a wet floor, often cause
the biggest hazards.
Trips happen when your foot hits an obstacle and you lose your balance. This
usually happens when there is a change in walking surfaces, such as a step,
uneven flooring, a crumbling surface or clutter in your pathway.
Common trip hazards include:
|•||open filing cabinet drawers
|•||electrical wires or cords
|•||obstructions in walkways
|•||curled floor mats or torn stair treads
|•||running on stairs
|•||pant legs or long skirts caught in shoe
|•||cracked or chipped sidewalks
|•||carrying large objects that block your
|•||hurrying and not paying attention to
Falls usually happen when your body movements shift your body too far away from
your centre of balance. Any slip or trip can end up in a fall.
Statistics indicate that 60% of all falls happen on the same level. Falls from a
height, such as from ladders, roofs or stairs, account for the remaining 40% of
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Fortunately, most accidents caused by slips, trips or falls can be prevented.
Follow this checklist and help create a safe environment for everyone:
|•||Always pay attention to what you’re
doing. This is the most important guideline and the one that will give you
the best protection.
|•||Look before you walk – make sure your
pathway is clear.
|•||Close desk and cabinet drawers after
|•||Make sure electrical cords and wires
are securely anchored, away from all walkways.
|•||Report loose carpeting, damaged
flooring, uneven sidewalks, broken pavement or other unsafe conditions to
the appropriate person.
|•||Clean up spills immediately.
|•||Report and/or replace burned out or
missing lights. Make sure stairs and walkways are well lit, especially at
|•||Shovel, salt and/or sand stairs and
paths to clear ice and snow.
|•||Don’t carry packages that block your
|•||Never stand on a chair or convenient
object to reach a high object. Always use a Canadian Standard Association
approved ladder or stool.
|•||Avoid bending, twisting and leaning
backward while seated.
|•||Keep one hand free to hold a handrail
when walking on stairs.
|•||If a change in climate makes your
glasses foggy, clean them immediately so that you always have a clear view
of your surroundings.
|•||When walking on slick or wet surfaces,
move slowly so you can react to traction changes.
|•||If a walking surface is slippery or
wet, shorten your stride, walk with your feet slightly turned out for better
balance and make wide turns.
|•||Wear slip-resistant shoes or boots and
dry off your shoes as soon as possible after entering a building (wet shoes
on dry floors are almost as dangerous as dry shoes on wet floors).
|•||Use the proper cleaners and finishes on
smooth walking surfaces. Apply non-abrasive strips and post warnings, where
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Safe falling techniques
These practical suggestions may save you from serious injury during a fall:
|•||When you feel yourself start to fall,
let your body go limp. This will allow your body to naturally roll into the
|•||Keep your wrist, elbows and knees bent.
Don’t try to break your fall.
|•||Tuck your chin in and throw your arms
up to protect your head.