Slip and Fall Hazards: 6 Common Problems to Tackle this Spring (updated March 2021)
With winter ending and warmer temperatures on the horizon, you may be tempted to let slip and fall prevention drop off your radar. But mild spring weather creates the perfect conditions to get outside and conduct fall hazard hunts around your parking areas.
EMC’s free slip and fall prevention checklist is a great tool to help you audit your space and report any issues you find. Here are a six common slip, trip and fall hazards to look out for:
Changes in Elevation—Changes in sidewalk elevation as small as ¼-inch can be a tripping hazard. Create a smoother transition and help prevent trips by grinding, leveling or replacing raised or broken concrete sections.
Potholes—Potholes in concrete and asphalt not only create tripping hazards but can also collect water, which could freeze and lead to slips next winter. Fill potholes with gravel or paver base as a temporary fix, but have a permanent repair done as soon as possible.
Unpainted Curbs and Ramps—Unpainted curbs and ramps may be hard to see. Make them more visible by painting them bright yellow. Because painted concrete can be slippery when wet, we also recommend using a slip-resistant additive with your paint to increase traction.
Narrow Walking Paths—Parked vehicles and other objects that infringe upon walkways can force pedestrians to take an alternate (and possibly less safe) path. Keep the sidewalk open by relocating fixed objects and installing brightly marked tire stops wherever parked vehicles can reduce the walking path to less than 3-feet wide.
Oil Spots—Engine oil and coolant residue left on parking surfaces can be slippery in any type of weather. Clean it up with a pressure washer before or after normal business hours to avoid inconveniencing customers and employees.
Inadequate Lighting—Poor lighting can make it difficult to see curbs, steps and uneven surfaces. Repair or replace any bulbs, fixtures, switches and cords if they are not functioning properly.
After your inspections, make necessary repairs as soon as possible. In the meantime, block off hazards with cones or caution tape. And if you don’t already have one, your organization should adopt a comprehensive slip and fall prevention program.
Make It Routine
In addition to a springtime review, it’s a good idea to develop ongoing maintenance, housekeeping and personal protective equipment (PPE) processes. This will help you keep your employees and customers on their feet all year long.
Maintenance—Keeping tools and equipment in good condition is critical to workplace safety. Pumps, valves and fittings that aren’t maintained can leak, developing puddles that a worker can slip on.
Even when equipment is operating correctly, leaks can happen. Non-slip grating can help improve traction but remember to clean it on a regular basis to get the most out of your investment.
Housekeeping—Tools, equipment, merchandise, cords and cables all present tripping hazards. Create specific times, such as at the end or beginning of a shift, to organize storage and work areas to help keep walkways and aisles clear.
Personal Protective Equipment—It is impossible to completely eliminate all slip, trip and fall hazards. Incorporating PPE requirements, such as slip-resistant footwear, adds another layer or protection for your employees.