4 Tips for Keeping Your Employees Well-Grounded

We’ve all been there. On your mid-morning walk to the coffee bar, you notice a wet spot on the floor. So, you sidestep it and get on with the business of getting caffeinated. You didn’t make the mess; why should you clean it up?

Because a co-worker’s life could depend on it.

Slips, trips and falls account for 15 percent of fatal workplace accidents and nearly 25 percent of nonfatal accidents. If those numbers didn’t get your attention, try this one: $70 million. That’s how much slips, trips and falls cost each year, according to the National Safety Council.

Certain industries are more prone to these types of accidents. In construction, for example, falls are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, and failing to provide fall protection is one of the 10 most-frequently cited OSHA violations. In fact, OSHA launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness among construction workers and their employers.

But just because your employees don’t spend their days on ladders, scaffolds and roves doesn’t mean they are immune to slips, trips and falls. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not feel prepared to protect their employees, according to a survey.

Here are a few simple tips for keeping employees well-grounded and on the job.

Maintain the workplace

  • Install floor plugs for equipment so power cords do not obstruct walkways.
  • Provide adequate lighting.
  • Repair uneven floors.
  • Fix leaky faucets and ice machines.
  • Make sure rugs aren’t worn, especially at the edges.

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Invest in slip-resistant floor mats, proper footwear, fall arrest systems and other appropriate PPE.
  • Make sure PPE fits properly.
  • Keep PPE in good condition, and replace it as necessary.
  • Clearly define which tasks require PPE, and enforce those requirements consistently.
  • Remember that OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

Require good housekeeping:

  • Place warning signs around spills and other hazards until they are cleaned up and eliminated.
  • Keep stairs, walkways and exits clean, dry and clear of clutter.
  • Close drawers when they are not in use.
  • If possible, keep power cords out of walkways. If not, secure them to the floor with rubber coverings.

Promote safe behaviors:

  • Watch for uneven surfaces.
  • Do not use chairs, tables or surfaces on wheels as substitutes for ladders.
  • Stay alert, especially on thresholds and elevators.
  • Take stairs one at a time, and use the handrail.
  • Avoid horseplay that could result in injuries.
  • Do not wear sunglasses in dimly lit areas.
  • Report unsafe conditions immediately.
  • Do not run.
  • Announce your presence when approaching blind corners.
  • Make sure you can see where you are going when carrying loads.


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