The First Day of Fall (Safety)

On average, slips, trips and falls cause nearly 700 fatalities per year. Furthermore, twenty percent of the 30,000 forklift accidents that occur each year involve a pedestrian being struck by the vehicle. 

The first day of fall is a great reminder that preventing pedestrian accidents in the workplace has long been challenging but not impossible. Working alongside a wide range of material handling equipment, traveling across ill-prepared work surfaces and dealing with elements like weather, congestion and poor illumination is, in many cases, part of work for many. Add a distraction such as a cell phone and we have a perfect storm of substandard conditions met by an increase of undesired behaviors.  

Both slips and trips result from an unintended or unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground. Slipping occurs when the friction between the foot or shoe sole and the floor surface provides insufficient resistance to counteract the forward or rearward forces that occur during the stepping process. 

Fall prevention strategies should be comprehensive and multifaceted but should also begin with a complete understanding of the variable risk factors that create an opportunity for loss potential. Given that there have been changes to OSHA’s walking-working surfaces standard, it’s prudent to consider risk assessment as a starting point to understand the robustness of your program and if you should be doing more. 

In his article Walking-Working Surfaces and Pedestrian Safety

Scott Gaddis, Vice President and Global Practice Leader—Safety and Health at Intelex Technologies Inc. provides a checklist to help you conduct a walking-working surfaces checklist and walks you through: 

  • Identifying risks to the worker associated with work activity.  
  • Identifying hazards found in the work environment that pose a threat of loss.  
  • Providing details of identified risks or hazards and providing context to build understanding.  
  • Utilizing a measurement system to evaluate risk understanding and decide precautions.  
  • Building controls that protect people and the work environment.
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About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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