Updates from ISSA, the Leading Association for the Cleaning Industry Worldwide
Prevent Slips, Trips And Falls
On an annual basis, slips, trips and falls account for a substantial number of personal injuries and suffering, workers’ compensation, loss in productivity, deaths, and civil liability.
The 2005 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index indicates that falls were the second leading cause of all workplace injuries in 2003, accounting for 13.7 percent of total direct costs associated with workplace injuries, or $6.9 billion. Additionally, the National Safety Council estimates that worker compensation and medical costs associated with employee slip and fall accidents are approximately $70 billion per year.
One of the most common hazards for cleaning personnel is slipping on wet floors or tripping over an object. That is why ISSA has made the prevention of slips, trips and falls one of the cornerstones of its alliance with OSHA. Following is a checklist of common causes of slips and trips, as well as some practical tips on how to avoid such workplace incidents.
Slips occur where there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and the floor. Common causes of slips are:
- Wet or oily surfaces
- Wet weather hazards
- Inappropriate footwear
- Loose, unanchored rugs or mats
Trips happen when your foot strikes or hits an object, causing loss of balance. Common causes of tripping are:
- Obstructed view
- Poor lighting
- Wrinkled carpeting
- Cables or cords laid across walkways
Prevention of falls. Both slips and trips result from some kind of change in the contact between the feet and the floor surface. Good housekeeping, improvements to flooring, proper footwear, appropriate pace of walking, and proper visibility are all elements critical to preventing fall accidents.
Housekeeping. Good housekeeping is the first and most important step in preventing falls. It includes the following practices:
- Periodically inspect floors for hazard
- Clean all spills immediately
- Mark spills and wet areas with warning signs
- Spread grease-absorbent compound on oily surfaces
- Mop or sweep debris from floors
- Remove obstacles from walkways
- Secure mats, rugs and carpets
- Always close file cabinet or storage drawers
- Do not lay cords and cables across walkways without appropriate covers
- Keep working areas and walkways well lit
Without good housekeeping practices, other preventive measures such as installation of sophisticated flooring, specialty footwear, or training on techniques of walking will never be fully effective.
Flooring. Changing or modifying the flooring is the next level to preventing slips, trips and falls. Floors can be modified by:
- Recoating or replacing floors
- Installing mats or pressure sensitive strips
- Applying an abrasive coating
It is critical to remember that high-traction floor surfaces still require good housekeeping as much as any other flooring. In addition, resilient, nonslippery flooring prevents or reduces foot fatigue and contributes to slip-prevention measures.
Footwear. In workplaces where floors may be oily or wet, proper footwear can play a significant role in preventing falls. Please be aware that no footwear has anti-slip properties for every condition.
- Use a flashlight if you enter a dark room
- Ensure that things you are carrying, pushing, or pulling do not prevent you from seeing any obstructions, spills, or other hazards.
This material was adapted from information provided by the California Department of Industrial Relations in its publication titled “Working Safer and Easier for Janitors, Custodians and Housekeepers.” This publication is available in English and Spanish and can be ordered online.
Regulatory News: Immigration
Reduce Risk of Enforcement Action
Employers can take certain affirmative actions to avoid or minimize the risk of immigration enforcement action.
- Implement or re-issue policies confirming your compliance with U.S. immigration laws. This notice can be posted on every job site and where applicants apply for work.
- Require contractors and sub-contractors to certify their compliance with immigration laws.
- Be sure that your I-9 forms are properly completed. Consider having an outside expert or consultant review your forms and follow their recommendations.
- Consider using the Social Security Administration (SSA) online verification system going forward. It is available at no charge and it will reduce the number of people on the SSA mismatch letter in the future.
In addition, employers may wish to use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Basic Pilot Verification Program (BP), which allows employers to check the databases of both the SSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to verify the employment authorization of all newly hired employees. Click here for more information on SAVE-BP.
Lastly, for employers with substantial numbers of workers on the mismatch letter year after year, send those workers a notice that they need to try to resolve their problem at the local SSA office. If the employee is unable to provide a valid social security number, document your efforts to obtain the corrected information. (Retain your documentation for a period of three years.) Remember, a mismatch is not a basis for you to take adverse action against an employee, such as lay off, suspension, termination, or discrimination. Doing so may violate state or federal law.
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All information in "ISSA Reports" is furnished by ISSA. ©2006. All rights reserved.
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