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Slip into fall prevention

When most workers hear the word fall, they think of people slipping off a ladder, tumbling off a roof or plunging from some other great height.

Yet, the reality is falls-from-the-same-level or slips, trips and falls injury more workers every year than falls to a lower level.

According to the 2011 Liberty Mutual Safety Index in 2009 slips, trips and falls was the second leading cause of all workplace injuries, accounting for more than $ 7.94 billion in fiscal impact. In fact the average cost of a same-level-fall is more than $20,000.

This article will examine how to eliminate some of the more common causes of slips trips and falls in your restaurant.

Wet or Slippery Surfaces
Wet or slippery surfaces are a major cause of workplace slips. High risk areas for slippery surfaces in a restaurant include areas around refrigeration units, dishwashing areas, cooking areas and exterior areas near grease traps.

To minimize the probability of a slip in these areas consider the following options:

  • Install slip-resistant floor surface, mats or use anti-skid adhesive tape in high traffic areas.
  • Place absorbent mating at the entrance of your restaurant during inclement weather or in areas where walkers may pass through puddles. Ensure these mats are properly anchored to the ground; a loose mat can become a tripping hazard itself.
  • Ensure employees are trained on good housekeeping techniques. They should pick up debris when they drop it.
  • Immediately clean up spills and leaks. Place caution signs to warn employees and/or patrons of slippery surfaces or other slip/trip hazards.
  • Conduct regular inspections of walkways to look for possible areas of pooling water or moisture. IF areas are found develop a policy or engineering controls to eliminate the hazard.
  • Wear proper non-slip footwear.
  • Install hand rails in outside areas where ice may form.
  • If ice does develop on outside walkways immediately attack it with a rock salt or other melting substance.

Changes in Elevation or Surface Texture
A change in elevation is a major cause of a workplace trip. These changes can be as minor as a ¼ inch.

Changes in elevation are mostly eliminated through administrative controls; however here are some steps to take to minimize tripping hazards.

  • Conduct periodic inspections of the property and grounds to identify any uneven flooring. If hazards are noted take the proper steps to fix the elevation discrepancy.
  • Utilize caution signs to warn employees and customers of any potential chance in elevation.
  • Talk to employees about places in the restaurant the flooring surface changes from one material to another. Instruct them when stepping from one material to another to be careful and ensure they have secure footing.

Insufficient Lighting
A third common cause of workplace slips, trips and falls is inadequate lighting. Moving from a well-lit area to a darker area or vice versa can cause temporary vision problems that might be just enough to cause a person to slip on spilled liquid or trip over a misplaced object.  

To prevent this type of hazard ensure all areas of your establishment are properly lit. Always keep work areas and walkways well lit

In conclusion the prevention of slips, trips and falls in the workplace requires participation of ownership, management and employees.

These people must buy into training, report issues and follow housekeeping practices. If you would like more information on developing a fall prevention program or fall prevention training feel free to e-mail me at mrich@safetyservicescompany.com.

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