It’s all about ME!

Not really. Actually, it’s about safety. I’m just using a personal example to drive home the point of this week’s blog.

Here’s my story. The other night, I step out for an evening of local theatre with one of my dearest friends. I park the car and make my way the two short blocks to the theatre, step off the curb to cross the street and fall in the middle of the road. In seconds my circumstances changed without warning. Honestly, I can’t tell you what made me fall, but I can tell you that I fell hard. I am now sporting numerous cuts, scrapes, bruises, a broken foot and I’m in a boot cast for six to eight weeks. I’m also a statistic.

Information from the National Safety Council cites slips, trips and falls as the leading cause of unintentional injuries in the U.S., accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the Emergency Room. (NSC Injury Facts 2011)

This issue presents a major challenge to workplace safety professionals.  Statistics show that injuries from slips and falls are the most common work related injuries, totaling 25,000 annually. But there’s nothing common about the chain reaction they set off. Sixty-five percent of all work days lost are from slips and falls and the total annual cost of these injuries in the U.S. is over $60 billion. (OSHA) That’s huge.

So if you’re in charge of safety at your workplace, what do you do? Understand, identify, train and prevent.  Falls happen when there is an unexpected change in the contact between your foot and the ground; slips are a result of too little traction. Not exactly breaking news, right? Ah yes, but if you really understand this, it helps identify the things in your workplace that contribute to slips and falls. In other words, do a risk assessment.  What physical factors need addressed? Are there areas where the floors are wet or spills regularly occur? Are there obstacles in the aisles? Are walking surfaces uneven or carpets or floor mats loose? Is lighting sufficient? Are areas of concern well marked? Is there debris, ice or oil on the surface? You get it. The wild card here is the human factor; employees get distracted, don’t look where they are going, walk too fast, text while they walk and on and on. Train your people on the hazards associated with these behaviors and how important it is to keep work areas free from things that lead to slips and falls. Then you can implement procedures and policies to prevent or reduce the chances of them happening.

Remember the commercial with the famous “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” line?  The commercial itself was a little cheesy and it was easy to chuckle a little when you watched it. But when it happens to you – or one of your employees – it is no laughing matter.

From one who knows, please be safe and watch your step.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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