Slips, trips, and falls affect all workplaces. Each of your employees, regardless of job site or responsibilities, can suffer from these hazards.
Here’s how common and deadly slips, trips, and fall can be: According to a recent BLS study, 15.1% of all fatal work injuries and 27% of nonfatal work injuries were the result of slips, trips, and/or falls.
While it’s critical to recognize and address physical factors that cause these hazards, such as spills, loose mats, stepladders, and poor lighting and housekeeping, it’s also important not to overlook the contributing human factors.
Human factors are items influencing people and their behavior. In safety situations, these might take the form of:
- A welder is rushing to complete their next task. As they hustle up the stairs, the welder misses a step, trips, and injures their leg. They need medical treatment and can’t work for two weeks.
- A dishwasher spills water on the kitchen floor. Their coworker doesn’t notice the spill and slips in the water when retrieving food from the freezer. The coworker injures their hip in the fall and requires hospitalization.
- A warehouse manager is frustrated that a worker cannot locate an item. In this stressed state, the manager trips on clutter in an aisle, breaks an arm, and must visit the emergency room.
There are four key human factors, or states of mind, that can contribute to slips, trips, and falls: Rushing, Frustration, Fatigue, and Complacency. Let’s look at how to prevent each one.
Mitigating human factors to reduce slips, trips, and falls
When workers are in a rush, they hurry through tasks and take short cuts. This can include moving blindly around corners, overlooking slipping or tripping hazards, and carrying too much equipment. You can help prevent this by allotting extra time for unexpected events and extra trips. It’s also critical to know your work environment and the potential hazards, such as wet areas, where others are working, clutter, and any dangerous machinery in use. Remind your workers to walk at safe speeds, to look before taking action, and to avoid quick movements.
Frustration can cause workers to be irritated or discouraged. This can lead to distracted employees that overlook hazards. Train your workers to take deep breaths to calm themselves and share frustrations with their supervisors. It’s important for managers to listen to issues raised by workers and take action to reduce worker frustration.
When workers feel fatigued, they lose the ability to concentrate on job tasks and safety. Encourage your workers to take scheduled breaks, including all breaks required by law. When possible, vary your employee tasks to reduce the risk of boredom.
Complacency can be caused by repetitive tasks like driving and can lead workers to feel safe even when danger is present. This is sometimes referred to as “zoning out.” It’s important for workers to break routines from time to time and avoid multitasking when they begin acting on autopilot.
Both human and physical factors can be complex to manage. TPC Training is committed to working with you to find the right solutions for your business. Services within our Safety Management Training program include:
- online training with our Safety Subscription offering,
- Mobile Audit & Inspection technologies to streamline your processes,
- and Contractor Management Software to help manage your contractors.
Click here to learn more about our Safety Training Management System and how TPC can help.
About the author:
Taylor Sikes is a safety professional with over 15 years of experience. He has served as an OSHA-authorized trainer for construction and general industry, holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Georgia, and has authored numerous courses in workplace safety.