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Falls on the Same Level Safety Toolbox Talk

Slips, trips, and falls can occur on the same level. Learn more about these falls and how to avoid them on the jobsite.

Falls on the Same Level Safety Talk

The most common and costly job site injuries each year are falls on the same level. Meaning, people slip or trip on the surface they are walking on and fall to the same level which results in injury. Not to be taken lightly, injuries from falls to the same level can be serious resulting in head injuries, broken bones, torn ligaments, and sometimes permanent disability.

Falls to the same level on the job site result in approximately $10.1 billion in company expenditures nationally each year. This is close to double the amount of $5.4 billion paid out nationally by companies for falls from a height. We will discuss trips and slips on the job site as well as some best practices for prevention to follow.

What Is A Trip?

Trips are caused by someone’s accidental contact with an obstacle. Simply put, something the person contacts causes a loss of balance which results in a fall. This is not limited only to objects or hazards at the floor level. Objects at eye level, swinging doors, and structures like columns and posts or fixtures and furniture are trip culprits as well. The resulting fall can range from minor to major on the injury scale and can lead to:

  • Lost Revenue

  • Increased Sick Time

  • Lost Wages

  • Higher Insurance Premiums

  • Disability

  • Decreased Production

While no one wants to be penalized for an accident and companies strive to care for their employees, both the injured employee and their employer stand to lose a great deal as the result of trips and falls.

What is a Slip?

Slips are any occurrence where someone loses their footing. These occurrences stem from a loss of traction, unlevel non-square, and improper surfaces for footing. Like trips, a loss of balance occurs and the person winds up on the floor. Common causes of slips are:

  • Slick Surfaces

  • Improper Footwear

  • Spills

  • Underfoot Debris

  • Sudden Stops

  • Declining Grade Surfaces

Injuries from slips to the same level range from minor to major as well and unfortunately open the employee and employer to the same possible deficits listed above. The sad fact to consider about trips and slips is the high percentage that is preventable.

slippery conditions on a construction site.

Slip and Trip Fall Safety And Good Housekeeping

Keeping a clean uncluttered job site is paramount for increasing safety and decreasing incidences of slips or trips. Job sites are dynamic with often chaotic amounts of noise and activity so it is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of slip and trip hazards and take corrective action.

Keep Pathways Clear

Oftentimes people slip or trip while avoiding objects in their path. Pathways at job sites are high traffic areas and commonly have equipment cables or hoses to walk over. If the cables or hoses will be in the pathway for an extended period, tape them to the surface with a noticeable color of tape to keep them from rolling underfoot. Clear walking and moving space on job sites is premium space.

Try not to stack anything in a pathway. Sometimes bulky items are stacked in pathways “temporarily” for later use. If the stack ends below eye level it makes for easy foot grabbing and tripping results.

Clean Up Spills Immediately

Debris and liquids present some of the most common job site hazards when they get loose and on the walking surface. Some job sites rarely have level grades to work on therefore maintaining good traction is more important.

Designate Areas For Scrap And Trash

Many times on job sites where it lands it where it stays. If it is not being used in the near future, all scrap material and supply materials should be moved to designated areas or containers away from high traffic areas.

Everything has its place even on the construction site or in the warehouse. Tools, materials, supplies, trash, etc… if it is not being used put it in its place. Containers get kicked, buckets get knocked over, people walk into and trip over things that someone else left in the way every day. Safe handling protocol includes putting things where they belong when not in use.

Regular Times For Safety Checks Daily

Have regular safety inspections throughout the workday. Have a team leader or supervisor designate regular times of the day where work stops for a few minutes and the focus for everyone on site is to check and correct all possible safety issues. It is human nature to focus on the task at hand and “make it happen”, particularly in construction and industrial fields. Taking a mental break to shift the focus on safer surroundings decreases the incidences of trips and slips.

Trip and Slip Fall Safety With Best Lighting

We all walk into things we don’t see. Job site lighting issues come in many shapes and sizes like:

  • Too Little Light

  • Too Much Glare

  • Shadows

  • Distance

  • Focus

  • Burned Out Bulbs

Here are some recommendations for properly lighting job sites and improving your employees’ ability to see possible slip and trip hazards.

Use Diffuse Lighting

Direct lighting focused on an area obviously helps someone’s vision in that space, but it also causes shadows outside of the area the light is trained on and the need for eyes to adjust when people move from being in the light to out of the light. Diffuse lighting also cuts down on glare from reflective surfaces. Diffuse lighting is the way to bridge the gap between too much or too little light for a workspace.

Always Turn On The Light

Never go into a dim or dark area without having some lighting. Flashlights today are far better than the ones your father used long ago. Even during the light of high noon, crawlspaces and attics can be pitch black so keep a torch handy. Many times people get in a rush and zip into a darkened space just for a second to grab something and end up tripping or slipping on something they were not able to see.

Maintain Your Lighting Equipment

The worst time to find out your equipment does not work is right when you plan to use it. Keep spare light bulbs close by and check your cable connections. If the situation occurs where the lighting equipment is down and it presents an unsafe job site, choose the cautious path and have folks stand by or reschedule until the equipment is restored.

Grip Tape Is Not Just For Your Hands

Grip Tape was developed for use by folks walking on slick surfaces and skateboarders who wanted more traction on their boards. It is a genius combination of sandpaper with adhesive on the other side and thankfully, it conforms to a multitude of shapes. Grip tape is an economical temporary solution in an area where slipping is likely. It's as easy to apply as duct tape and makes smooth surfaces non-skid surfaces.

Most Slips And Trips Are Preventable

Taking a proactive approach by using some or all of the best practices we have discussed will benefit everyone involved. While they may seem simplistic and innocuous on the surface, trip and slip injuries are one of the most common and impactful workplace injuries affecting employees and organizations today.

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