According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 791 fatal slips, trips or falls in the workplace in 2018. In addition to fatalities between 2016-2018 nearly 150,000 people suffered injury from a slip or trip and fall on the job (excluding falls from heights) each year. If there were a foolproof way to completely prevent falls in the office, someone surely would have created it long ago. However, since there is no way to prevent all slips, trips and falls from happening in the office, nothing will give you more of an edge than being proactive about fixing potentially harmful situations in your office or workspace.
If you find yourself working in the middle of an office renovation then you should take a minute to assess a few potential safety hazards not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of your colleagues as well. A few preventative steps can prevent falls in the office. It is not surprising to discover that most falls in the workplace happen during construction. In 2018, there were 83 fatalities due to falls through a surface, such as a floor; and there were 50 fatalities from collapsing structures or equipment. Some things to check are listed below.
- Make sure all extension cords are anchored to the floor to prevent a tripping hazard.
- Turn off all electrical power to areas where wiring will be exposed.
- Barricade the work area with caution tape to clearly outline the area where all non-essential personnel should stay clear.
- Post signs throughout the office giving written notice in English and Spanish informing staff that construction is in progress and to be mindful.
- Make sure all aisles and walkways are free and clear of obstruction and debris.
- Ensure that all loose or untacked carpet is secured to the floor to prevent a tripping hazard.
- Make sure that all spills are promptly cleaned, and wet floor signs are posted in the affected area to warn others of the potential slip hazard.
- Identify and regularly inspect potential leak hazard such as sinks, dishwashers and refrigerators.
- Designate an employee as the safety person and make it part of their job to regularly check for new hazards. This prevents the “its not my job” attitude from leaving tasks undone.
If you see something, say something
Injuries caused by slip and fall accidents can be serious, even deadly. It is up to each of us to do our part to prevent falls in the workplace. Most of the steps you can take to prevent these accidents from occurring are common sense, but when no one is assigned that task as a part of their job, it simply may never get done.
About Author: Paul H. Cannon is a trial attorney and shareholder at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. He has been practicing personal injury and product liability law since 1995. He is Certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2005.