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Many slips and falls happen during normal, everyday work situations such as climbing stairs and ladders, walking on catwalks and bin floors, or working on top of platforms and loading docks. Employees who work in these situations everyday don’t think about the possibility of an accident so they sometimes have the potential to become hasty and careless or not take the proper precautions.

Operational/procedural errors

Many accidents result from not following designated work or safety procedures. Examples include:

  • Using an improper work surface
  • Not using safety equipment or guarding correctly
  • Not paying attention or getting distracted
  • Working too close to an opening or edge without a lifeline or harness
  • Not following established procedures
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Using portable metal ladders where they might come in contact with electrical conductors
  • Failure of the employer to identify unsafe equipment or provide accident prevention programs
  • Not securing the base of ladders
  • Placing ladders so that top rails are not firmly supported against buildings or lashed, secured or held in position to prevent slippage
  • Side rails of ladders do not extend at least 36 inches above the landing
  • Not providing or not using protective equipment
  • Becoming entrapped in material

Equipment failure/design problems

Many accidents result from failure of materials, equipment or the working surface. Examples include:

  • Failure of working surface components or supports
  • Failure of safety equipment
  • Structural collapse
  • Broken safety lines
  • Floor openings not guarded by standard railings, toe boards or covers
  • Using defective ladders
  • Fixed ladders used to ascend heights exceeding 20 feet are not equipped with cages, wells or safety devices, nor with a landing platform for each 30 feet of height
  • Single cleat ladder used to access heights exceeding 30 feet
  • Stepladder’s metal spreader not correct size to securely hold the front and back sections in an open position
  • Access ladders or other safe access to scaffolds are not provided

Other causes

Accidents could also be caused by other conditions including weather (high winds, ice, snow, etc.), environmental conditions (toxic gases or excessive heat), illness (heart attack, stroke, etc.), sleeping on the job, alcohol or drugs, poor housekeeping, inadequate training or language barriers.

If a slip or fall does occur:

                  Contact necessary emergency services

                  Take action to prevent immediate reoccurrences

                  Collect information about the accident

                  Record witness statements

                  Take pictures of the accident scene

Describe the scene at the time of the accident including condition of the victim, the activity that was taking place, their           footwear and the condition of the floor

                  Contact your insurance company as quickly as possible

Preventing accidents

Slips, falls and other workplace accidents can result from complex series of events, and numerous questions must be answered when you’re trying to assess risk factors. You can avoid a great deal of risk by making sure you always take the proper basic preventative measures, including:

                  Proper work surfaces and guarding

                  Using proper protective equipment

                  Proper training and supervision

                  Establishing and enforcing safe working procedures


Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.

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